Home>Highlight>Webber ready to file civil rights suit against state on statehouse vax policy, lawyer says

Assemblyman Jay Webber. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

Webber ready to file civil rights suit against state on statehouse vax policy, lawyer says

By David Wildstein, December 18 2021 2:30 pm

Through his lawyer, Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains) has notified the state attorney general’s office that the Morris County Republican will not “submit to a Covid-19 test nor will he provide proof of vaccination” to enter the statehouse complex when the Assembly meets on Monday.

Webber has put the state on notice that he’s prepared to ask a judge to restrain state officials, including acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck, acting State Police Superintendent Patrick Callahan, or Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin from blocking Webber’s access to the Assembly chamber, according to a letter to Bruck on Friday from Webber’s attorney Mark Sheridan.

“Any attempt to deny him entry to the Statehouse or the Assembly Chamber is a violation of … the New Jersey State Constitution and a deprivation of his privileges and immunities under the New Jersey State Constitution,” Sheridan wrote.

Sheridan also warned Bruck that the New Jersey Civil Rights Act prohibits Webber and other from being deprived of their rights as elected member of the New Jersey Legislature.

“The threats of arrest and removal, made by you, your office, the State Police and Speaker Coughlin against duly elected legislators seeking to participate in the legislative process absent proof of satisfaction of a criteria not enumerated in Article IV, Section IV (of the State Constitution) are actionable, and we will pursue all available remedies,” Sheridan told Bruck.

Another GOP lawmaker, Assemblyman Erik Peterson (R-Franklin), has already informed the state of his intention to file a lawsuit if he’s denied admittance to the statehouse.

The State Capitol Joint Management Commission had approved a policy last month that required proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test to gain admission to the complex.  Republicans filed a lawsuit that will be heard by an appellate court panel in April.

On December 2, state troopers assigned to the state house chose to stand down and allow GOP legislators access to the Assembly floor despite assurances that they would not.  That has triggered a review by the State Police.

Senate President Steve Sweeney and Coughlin approved a similar policy for the legislature that day.

“I urge you to reconsider your unconstitutional position and to cease and desist from threatening to arrest, detain or deprive any duly elected member of the legislature, including Assemblyman

Webber, access to the Statehouse or the General Assembly Chamber for the legislative session scheduled for Monday.

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