Rep. Zephyr sues over her ban from the House floor; Hundreds turn out to rally in her support
A Missoula lawmaker who was barred from the Montana House of Representatives floor for the remainder of the session is suing the state and the Speaker of the House to challenge that sanction.
Zooey Zephyr is joined by four of her constituents in arguing that the state of Montana, Republican Speaker Matt Regier and the House’s sergeant-at-arms violated Zephyr’s first amendment rights, including right to free speech and right to petition for redress. House Republicans voted to ban Zephyr from the House floor and its debates, although she’s allowed to vote on bills remotely.
Republicans took action to sanction Zephyr after they say she encouraged a disruptive protest on the House floor last week. The protest was in response to House Republicans blocking Zephyr from speaking after they say she broke the rules of decorum.
The lawsuit asks for an immediate order blocking House Republicans' decision and to allow Zephyr to return to the floor.
In a statement, Attorney General Austin Knudsen called the suit “political activism” and said a court block would be a violation of the separation of powers.
Lewis and Clark District Court has yet to rule on the case.
Hundreds turn out for Missoula march in support of Rep. Zooey Zephyr
A crowd of roughly 750 people marched through Missoula Friday evening in support of state Democratic Rep. Zooey Zephyr after she was barred from the House floor earlier this week. Zephyr can vote on bills, but not speak for or against them.
The march, followed by a rally in downtown Missoula kicked off a two-day event that organizers billed as ‘24 hours of queer joy.’
Rep. Zephyr’s supporters pushed strollers and bikes, many carrying signs and pride flags as they arrived at Missoula’s Rose Park, in the middle of Montana House District 100, which Zephyr represents.
Many of Rep. Zephyr’s constituents, like Ryan Ward, voiced frustration that Rep. Zephyr was barred from participating in floor debates for the rest of the session..
“This whole system that’s telling me, you need to vote, you need to talk to your representatives, and then kicks my representative – that I voted for and that I send letters to and that I call – out of the current legislative session, it feels like a failure,” Ward said.
Zephyr was blocked from speaking by the Speaker of the House after she told supporters of a bill to ban gender-affirming care they would have “blood on their hands.” Republicans later voted to ban Zephyr from the House saying she encouraged a protest in the chamber.
Missoulian Freya Halland said Friday’s rally and march meant a lot to them.
“It felt genuinely revelatory - I’ve been in protests before and I’ve never felt this much joy and anger mixed into action,” Halland said.
Rep. Zephyr showed up to the rally too, and took the stage to chants of “Let her speak!”
[Zephyr] “Hi, Missoula! It’s really good to be home.”
She announced that she was running again in 2025, saying, ‘They’re not going to get rid of me.”