Republican legislators who voted to bar Montana’s transgender Democrat Rep. Zooey Zephyr from the state House after he suggested their child protection rules would deliver “blood on your hands” were backed in a court ruling Tuesday.
The judgement came just hours before the Legislature wrapped up its biennial session.
AP reports District Court Judge Mike Menahan said it was outside his authority to overrule lawmakers who voted last week to exclude Zephyr from the House floor and debates.
He cited the importance of preserving the Constitution’s separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches.
“Plaintiffs’ requested relief would require this Court to interfere with legislative authority in a manner that exceeds this Court’s authority,” Menahan wrote in his ruling.
The ruling and lawmakers’ decision to adjourn brought a sudden end to a political standoff that dominated the last days of the Legislature.
Attorneys for the state of Montana had asked the judge to reject an emergency motion from Zephyr’s lawyers challenging his ouster.
The first-term lawmaker was silenced two weeks ago for admonishing Republican lawmakers over a series of draft laws that shield children and adults from the medical and civic hazards within the transgender ideology.
Zephyr (D-Missoula) had claimed in a floor debate that Republican legislators who supported the bill that would ban gender-transitioning drugs and surgery for minors had “blood on their hands.”
The remarks were seen as particularly offensive in the wake of the mass shooting by a transgender attacker at a Christian school last month and because Zephyr mocked the legislators’ prayers:
“If you vote yes on this bill and yes on these amendments I hope the next time there’s an invocation, when you bow your heads in prayer, you see the blood on your hands.” Zephyr’s remarks were ruled to be a violation of legislative decorum.
Zephyr was then banished from the floor for encouraging a raucous statehouse protest