New Jersey Republican Lawmakers Defy New Requirement to Show Proof of Having Taken COVID-19 Vaccine

New Jersey Assembly member Brian Bergen, left, stands with fellow GOP Assembly member Erik Peterson, right, who speaks and gestures toward New Jersey State troopers blocking GOP lawmakers from entering the Assembly chamber because they did not show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test, Thursday Dec. 2, 2021, in Trenton, N.J. The lawmakers decried the mandate, saying it was unconstitutional, though the troopers ultimately let the some of the legislators who declined to show their documents enter the chamber. It’s unclear why. A message seeking an explanation was left with the state police. (AP Photo/Mike Catalini)

Several Republican lawmakers defied a new requirement that they show proof of having taken the COVID-19 vaccines or a negative test before entering the chambers of the New Jersey Assembly. There was chaos, disorder and confusion outside the halls so much so state troopers were called in.

Although this lasted a short time, hours later, a state appellate court handed a victory to Republicans who had sued to block the proof-of-vaccination requirement. Ahead of Thursday’s voting session, at least 10 Republicans strode toward the Assembly chamber on the first day the vaccine requirement was in effect. They were stopped by uniformed troopers for about 10 minutes before they eventually entered without showing any vaccination proof or a negative test. Troopers stationed at the doorway declined to provide an explanation.

Several Assembly members voiced their thoughts.

“You have no right to stop us,” Assembly member Erik Peterson said. “You see this? You see this, folks? Denying us entry into our house.”

“This is America!” Assembly member Hal Wirths added.

some other Assembly members — who had earlier declined to show vaccination cards or a negative test — walked into the room unblocked. An email seeking an explanation was sent to the state police.

Later, what appeared to be close to the full 28-member Republican minority were sitting in their seats in the Assembly.

– Ella Breedlove