Montana state Democrat Rep. Zooey Zephyr sues Montana, officials over censure
"This effort by House leadership to silence me and my constituents is a disturbing and terrifying affront to democracy itself," Zephyr said.
Montana state Democrat Rep. Zooey Zephyr and four constituents filed a lawsuit Monday against the state and state officials in response to Zephyr being censured last month by the GOP-led House.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Montana argued on behalf of the plaintiffs that Zephyr's censure caused "irreparable harm" and violated their constitutional rights, according to court documents.
The Republican-led House on Wednesday officially banned Zephyr, who is a transgender, from the floor for the remainder of the legislative session after the lawmaker said those who vote for a bill banning gender-related care for minors would have "blood on their hands."
Zephyr was not allowed to talk on the floor after the "blood" comment and before a final vote on the bill, which resulted in a rowdy protest in the House gallery in which demonstrators shouted "Let her speak."
After days of rebuffing Zephyr’s request to speak, Republican leaders finally granted the lawmaker the floor to give a statement before they ultimately voted to discipline her Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.
"This effort by House leadership to silence me and my constituents is a disturbing and terrifying affront to democracy itself," Zephyr said after the lawsuit was filed. "House leadership explicitly and directly targeted me and my district because I dared to give voice to the values and needs of transgender people like myself."
In addition to suing the state of Montana, the lawsuit also names Montana GOP House Speaker Matt Regier and state House Sergeant at Arms Bradley Murfitt.
One plaintiff, Zephyr's constituent Dean Chou, said: "I feel alienated and disenfranchised to have my representative expelled from debate."
Regier has not yet publicly commented on the lawsuit, but after Zephyr was expelled from the chamber, he said: "The only person silencing Rep. Zephyr is Rep. Zephyr. The Montana House will not be bullied. All 100 Representatives will be treated the same."