Judge denies Montana lawmaker Zooey Zephyr’s request to return to House floor


(NEW YORK) — A judge has denied Montana state legislator Zooey Zephyr’s motion to have her legislative privileges and duties reinstated after being censured by House Republicans.

Zephyr said her attorneys are unlikely to appeal the ruling since the legislative session is coming to a close.

“Throughout the last two weeks, my constituents, Montanans, and the world have witnessed a gross miscarriage of justice here in Montana, as the Speaker of the House refused to recognize me and ultimately barred me from partaking in any debate on the house floor, effectively removing my constituents right to representation,” Zephyr said in a statement to ABC News.

Zephyr had urged House Republicans to vote against a gender-affirming care ban for transgender youth.

Zephyr is the state’s first openly transgender lawmaker.

Some legislators, including Speaker of the House Matt Regier, argued Zephyr had broken House rules of decorum when she said legislators would have “blood on your hands” if they passed the transgender youth care ban.

Demonstrators in support of Zephyr interrupted House business several days later to protest her silencing. Zephyr showed her support by holding up her mic and failing to leave the House floor.

House Republicans voted to censure her in response.

“What this ruling implies is that the legislature isn’t beholden to the constitution–that there is no right to free speech in the face of a supermajority,” Zephyr said.

Regier applauded the ruling from the court.

“The 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,” Regier said in a statement to ABC News. “The House is continuing its work for the people of Montana.”

State Attorney General Austin Knudsen called Zephyr’s lawsuit “nothing more than an attempt by outside groups to interfere with Montana’s lawmaking process.”

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.