On Monday, February 23, 2015, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael P. Linfield granted a motion by the City of Glendale to dismiss a lawsuit, which sought the removal of a monument in Glendale Central Park that memorializes the more than 200,000 Dutch and Asian women who were coerced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army between 1932 and 1945.
The Lawsuit (Michiko Shiota Gingery, et al v. City of Glendale, et al.) was the second lawsuit filed by Michiko Shiota Gingery, a Glendale resident, and the Global Alliance for Historical Truth (GAHT-US), a nonprofit corporation. Late last year, United States District Court Judge Percy Anderson dismissed a similar federal lawsuit brought on behalf of the same plaintiffs. In both lawsuits, the plaintiffs claimed, among other things, that the placement of the monument interfered with the Executive Branch’s primary authority to conduct foreign relations and was an unconstitutional interference with the federal government’s Foreign Affairs Power.
Like Judge Anderson before him, Judge Linfield rejected all of plaintiffs’ arguments and ruled in the City’s favor. In doing so, the Court explained that the Comfort Women monument was not only constitutional but was also a protected exercise of the City’s freedom of speech. As Judge Linfield explained at the outset of his ruling “cities and states have routinely – and historically passed resolutions in support, or in opposition to various foreign policy issues.” “If plaintiffs’ argument were correct then such historically routine activities undertaken by state and local government throughout the Country would all be unconstitutional.” The Judge further stated, “However, Plaintiffs are wrong; such local pronouncements – and this monument – are not unconstitutional.”
The City was represented, pro bono, by a team of litigators at Sidley Austin, including Bradley H. Ellis, Frank J. Broccolo, Christopher S. Munsey, and Laura L. Richardson.
Michael Garcia, Glendale’s City Attorney, stated that “the City is extremely pleased with the result and the thorough and thoughtful ruling by Judge Linfield.” He added “the City is also very appreciative of Sidley Austin’s tireless effort and exceptional representation in this matter.”