Montana Lawmaker Sues State Over Censure

Montana Lawmaker Sues State Over Censure
Montana Rep. Zooey Zephyr (D) (screen capture)

Montana Rep. Zooey Zephyr, a Democratic lawmaker who was banned from taking part in legislative debate or even stepping onto the House floor, is suing the state and its House speaker over her punishment.

From The Hill:

Zephyr, along with three of her constituents who are also a part of the suit, argues that the legislature took retaliatory and unlawful action against her for engaging in speech protected under federal law.

Montana House Republicans last week voted to censure Zephyr, barring her from the House floor, anteroom and gallery for the remaining nine days of Montana’s legislative session. She has the option to participate remotely, but only by voting.

The lawsuit filed Monday in state court argues that House Republicans, including Speaker Matt Reiger, in voting to prevent Zephyr from participating in legislative debate not only violated her rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but also disenfranchised the 11,000 Montanans Zephyr was elected to represent.

This all arose during a debate regarding a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth. Zephyr told her colleagues they would “have blood on their hands” if such care for trans youth was banned due to the increased risk of suicide.

The bill, Senate Bill 99, was signed into law late last week by Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte, just three days after Zephyr was censured.

Zephyr is the state’s first openly transgender lawmaker elected to office.