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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Judge says courts can't weigh in on the Legislature's rules

A Lewis and Clark District Court judge has denied a Missoula lawmaker’s request to immediately lift a sanction against her that prohibits her from entering the Montana House of Representatives.

The judge wrote that the Montana Constitution gives the state Legislature explicit power to punish or expel members, not the court, and that the separation of powers is fundamental.

Rep. 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 the right to free speech and the 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.

Shaylee covers state government and politics for Montana Public Radio. Please share tips, questions and concerns at 406-539-1677 or  
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