Montana Representative Zooey Zephyr Monday filed a complaint against the state to remove the ban currently preventing her from entering the house floor and speaking during debate.
The ACLU of Montana, one of the parties who assisted in filing the lawsuit, argued the house did not have authority to silence Zephyr. The ACLU argued that, in actions like these, “Representative Zephyr’s interest in speaking about matters of public concern outweighs defendants’ interest in restricting the content of representatives’ speech.” Specifically, the complaint alleged the censure will cause Zephyr to be unable to participate in debate over House Bill 2, which determines the state’s budget, consequently not letting her constituents’ voices be heard.
Regarding the lawsuit, Zephyr said:
The recent actions violate my first amendment rights, as well as the rights of my 11,000 constituents to representation. Montana’s State House is the people’s House, not Speaker [Matt] Regier’s, and I’m determined to defend the right of the people to have their voices heard.
Last week, Speaker Regier gave a statement on the censure:
Currently all Representatives in the Montana House are free to participate in debate while following House rules. The choice to not follow House rules is one that Rep. Zephyr has made. The only person silencing Rep. Zephyr is Rep. Zephyr. The Montana House will not be bullied. All 100 Representatives will be treated the same.
This comes after the Montana House of Representatives voted last week to silence Zephyr after a protest broke out in the house. She previously stated those who voted for Senate Bill 99, which banned gender-affirming care for minors, would have “blood on their hands.” Monday’s complaint explained how untreated gender dysphoria, or a conflict between the gender one identifies as and the sex one was assigned at birth, can lead to negative mental health outcomes and increase the risk of suicide among teenagers.