Republicans File Legal Challenge to Block Policy Restricting Access to New Jersey Statehouse
Senate and Assembly Republicans have filed an action in New Jersey Superior Court (click here for PDF) to block enforcement of a policy imposed by the Murphy administration and Democrats in the Legislature that restricts access to the Statehouse for both the public and legislators.
“We’re petitioning the Court for emergent relief to block enforcement of an exclusionary policy that we believe is unconstitutional and undemocratic,” said Senator Steven Oroho, the incoming Senate Republican leader. “With the policy taking effect today, we felt compelled to take action to ensure continued public access to the Statehouse and the legislative process.”
The new restrictions require visitors, legislators, and staff to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative test result for entry to the New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton.
Anyone who doesn’t provide the required documentation would be denied entry to the complex, including the Legislative Statehouse, Statehouse Annex, and Legislative Staff Building/South Addition, which cover the Senate and Assembly chambers, committee rooms, and staff and member offices.
“Many Republicans in my caucus object to this new Statehouse policy because it is unfair to the public and is unconstitutional. Unfair because of how it affects the public from participating in the democratic process, and unconstitutional because the commission has no authority over how lawmakers legislate – especially in the Statehouse,” said Assemblyman John DiMaio, the incoming Assembly Republican leader. “Democrats cannot prevent legislators from representing the people who elected them, but that is what they are trying to do.”
The policy, which takes effect today, was adopted initially on October 26 by the State Capitol Joint Management Commission over the objections of Republicans.
Oroho also expressed concerns about the conflict that will arise from enforcement of the policy.
“On a personal level, we’re deeply concerned about the unnecessary conflict the Democrats’ policy creates by turning the State Police who guard the Statehouse into the vaccine police,” Oroho added. “Our Troopers have a hard enough job in the current environment without being forced unnecessarily into the middle of this extremely divisive and emotional issue. They deserve better.”