Republican members of the New Jersey State Assembly and Senate are expected to file legal challenges to the mandate requiring anyone entering the State House prove vaccination status or provide a negative COVID test.

It also appears several members of the GOP caucuses will dare State Police to remove them from the State House if they do not comply.

The showdown has been brewing since last October when the The State Capitol Joint Management Commission approved the vaccine mandate in October, over the objections of its Republican members.

On Thursday, lawmakers are due to report for an in-person voting session, and there remains widespread support among the Republicans to defy the ban, even among those who say they are vaccinated.

Assemblyman Hal Wirths (R-Sussex) says he is vaccinated, but will still defy the policy. Wirths told News12, "We all take an oath to uphold the Constitution, and I don't think its constitutionally allowed."

A provision in the State Constitution states that members of the Senate and Assembly shall "be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the sitting of their respective houses, and in going to and returning from the same.” The only exception is in cases of "treason and high misdemeanor."

It's believed Republicans will challenge the mandate based on that provision.

Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R-Denville) has already said he has no intention of complying with the vaccination or testing mandate, and has basically dared them to stop him. Bergen told InsiderNJ that he was confident no one would try to stop any lawmakers from entering the State House or legislative chambers.

State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan said at Monday's COVID briefing that he believes his troopers do have the authority to prevent legislators who are not in compliance with the mandate from entering the State House, but said he would consult with the state attorney general if the issue arises. Callahan did not anticipate troopers handcuffing legislators and dragging them out of the legislative chambers.

Democratic Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin did not signal any willingness to alter the current vaccine policy. Both he and Murphy called the option to test "reasonable."

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