(Imperial War Museum / Wikimedia)I know clients are sacred commodities these days, but for the life of me I cannot figure out why a firm like Mayer Brown needs clients fighting this kind of cause. Recently, the firm sued the city of Glendale, California in federal court, seeking the removal from a city park of a statue honoring “comfort women”—women from Korea, China, and other parts of Asia who were forced into sexual slavery by Japan to service its military during World War II. (The bronze memorial depicts a young girl in traditional Korean clothes, sitting on a chair, next to an empty chair.) I was never a litigator, but the complaint in Gingery v. City of Glendale strikes me as rambling and not terribly artful. Basically, it argues that the plaintiffs (two Japanese Americans and a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing “accurate and fact-based educational resources” about World War II) are “offended” by the statue. At one point, the complaint notes that one plaintiff is troubled that the statue “presents an unfairly one-sided portrayal of the historical and political debate surrounding comfort women and presents the potential to disrupt the United States’ strategic alliances with its closest East Asian allies, Japan and South Korea.” Later, the complaint says the statue is so offensive to the plaintiff that it is “effectively denying [the plaintiff] full enjoyment of the Park’s benefits.” At this point, you’re probably saying to yourself, as I did, “Really? Seriously?” Indeed, it’s hard to believe anyone could make such politically tune-deaf, revisionist arguments with a straight face.
But just in case you’re not moved by the plaintiffs’ plight, the complaint also throws in some constitutional arguments—that the statue “unconstitutionally intrudes on the Executive Branch’s authority to conduct American foreign policy.”
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