Montana Rep. Zooey Zephyr’s Effort To Return To State House Rejected By Judge
State Rep. Zooey Zephyr (D-Missoula), a transgender politician who attacked colleagues over legislation that would outlaw transgender operations for kids, was denied her request to return to the Montana House floor after a censure by a court.
Judge Mike Menahan of the District Court ruled on Tuesday that the “requested remedy would compel this Court to meddle with legislative power in a way that exceeds this Court’s jurisdiction.” According to the Montana Free Press, the plaintiffs also want for injunctive remedy that “far exceeds the facts at issue here.”
Even if the court decides the defendants “acted unlawfully under the facts of this case,” the judge continued, “it does not have the authority to issue a broad permanent injunction to effectively remove all legislative authority under Article V Section 10 [of the Montana Constitution] in relation to a single member.”
The court's decision not to reinstate me undermines the democratic principles our country was founded on.
I vow to continue standing for my constituents & community to fight for our democratic institutions. If we can't get justice in the courts, we will get it in the ballot box. pic.twitter.com/cBgXOnIX8K
— Rep. Zooey Zephyr (@ZoAndBehold) May 2, 2023
Zephyr, who filed a lawsuit with residents of Missoula County, said in a tweet that the court’s ruling “undermines the democratic principles our country was founded on” and pledged to “continue standing for my constituents & community to fight for our democratic institutions.”
The Montana state legislature runs a 90-day legislative session every two years, and the current one concludes this week, despite the fact that an appeal is still feasible.
Zephyr hinted to running for re-election by saying, “If we can’t get justice in the courts, we will get it in the voting booth.”
The GOP-led Montana House voted last week to prevent Zephyr, a biological man who identifies as a woman, from attending or speaking at floor sessions after the lawmaker held up a microphone as supporters disrupted the proceedings in the Montana House chamber while chanting, “Let her speak!” The lawsuit was filed on Monday in response, and several people were taken into custody as a result of the commotion.
After Zephyr attacked other lawmakers who support legislation that would tighten restrictions on transgender surgeries for minors, Republican leadership refused to allow her to speak, citing violations of decorum rules.
The measure was enacted on Friday by Republican Governor Greg Gianforte.
Zephyr was penalized for the rest of the current parliamentary session by the censure, although she was still able to cast a distant vote. When the Montana House was about to consider “critical legislation” on the state’s budget, the complaint claimed Zephyr was being silenced.
In the complaint, it was argued that the “unconstitutional” censure should be quickly and ultimately reversed. The plaintiffs’ attorneys named the state of Montana, Montana House Speaker Matt Regier, and Montana House Sergeant-at-Arms Bradley Murfitt as defendants.
According to the Associated Press, state attorneys argued against the need for an emergency move, claiming that the reprimand was given for “good cause” and that “one legislator cannot be permitted to prevent the other 99 from debating issues affecting Montana in a civil and orderly manner.”
Republican Attorney General Austin Knudsen said that the judge’s decision on Tuesday “is a win for the rule of law and the separation of powers enshrined in our Constitution,” according to The Wall Street Journal. According to Scripps, Regier said that “Montana courts have recognized that the Judicial Branch has no power to revise or overrule the power expressly held by the Montana State Legislature to conduct its business.”
Reprinted with permission. View this story and more on WayneDupree.com.