Constitutional Law

Judge tosses suit seeking removal of 'comfort women' memorial

A federal judge in Los Angeles has dismissed a suit that claimed a statue that honored “comfort women” in a public park interfered with the federal government’s power to set foreign policy.

U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson found the plaintiffs did not have standing, and even if they did, there was no interference with foreign policy. The Los Angeles Daily News and the Los Angeles Times have stories.

The statue in a Glendale, California, park paid tribute to the mostly Korean women who were forced into prostitution in Japanese military brothels during World War II. The suit seeking removal of the statue was filed by a resident of Glendale who was born in Japan, a Japanese American resident of Los Angeles, and a group called Global Alliance for Historical Truth.

Anderson said the plaintiffs lacked standing because they could not show a causal connection between their claimed injury and the claimed constitutional violation. “The fact that local residents feel disinclined to visit a local park is simply not the type of injury that can be considered to be in the ‘line of causation’ for alleged violations of the foreign affairs power and supremacy clause,” Anderson said.

“Even if plaintiffs possessed Article III standing, dismissal is still appropriate because plaintiffs have failed to allege facts that state a cognizable legal theory,” Anderson said. “Plaintiffs have alleged no well-pleaded factual allegations that could plausibly support a conclusion that the comfort women monument in Glendale’s Central Park, with a plaque expressing ‘sincere hope ‘that these unconscionable violations of human rights never recur,’ violates the supremacy clause or foreign affairs powers.”

Mayer Brown initially represented the plaintiffs but it withdrew after the case generated controversy. Sidley Austin worked on the suit pro bono for Glendale, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.

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