Zooey Zephyr, a biological male who identifies as a woman, sued to be reinstated into the Montana House of Representatives. A judge ruled that the representative cannot yet return after Zephyr encouraged a protest in the House chamber after the Republican majority legislature introduced a bill banning sex changes for children within the state. Zephyr encouraged a group of protestors who stormed the chamber, demanding that Republican House Speaker Matt Regier recognize the first-term lawmaker. The judge rejected Zephyr’s appeal to return, and lawyers further said that the Montana House of Representatives retains “exclusive constitutional authority” to discipline its own members.
By Gretchen Clayson; May 3, 2023
A transgender state representative in Montana who was censured and banished from the House after encouraging a protest within the chamber cannot yet return, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Rep. Zooey Zephyr, a biological male who identifies as a woman, sued to be reinstated into the Montana House of Representatives, following a suspension imposed by the Republican-led legislature April 26. Already in hot water over comments regarding a bill that would ban sex-changes for children within the state, Zephyr doubled down, encouraging and supporting a group of protestors who stormed the chamber demanding that Republican House Speaker Matt Regier recognize the first-term law maker.
District Court Judge Mike Menahan rejected Zephyr’s appeal, ruling it was outside of his authority to overrule the vote handed down by the legislature that led to the lawmaker’s exclusion from the House floor and debates, The Associated Press (AP) reported. Menahan added that his ruling sought to preserve the separation of powers within the Constitution.
Menahan’s ruling supports the argument put forth by Attorney General Austin Knudsen’s lawyers who warned that an intervention by the courts to reinstate Zephyr would be a “blatant violation of the separation of powers,” CBS news reported. The lawyers further pointed out the Montana House of Representatives retains “exclusive constitutional authority” to discipline its own members.
“One legislator cannot be allowed to halt the ability of the other 99 to engage in civil, orderly, debate concerning issues affecting Montana,” the state’s lawyers wrote, according to the outlet.
Zephyr disagreed with the judge’s ruling, telling The AP the ruling means that a person’s rights “stop at a legislative supermajority.”
“It’s a really sad day for the country when the majority party can silence representation from the minority party whenever they take issue.”