Media Contact

Ariella Sult, Director of Communications, asult@aclu-in.org

August 27, 2019

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a lawsuit Monday on behalf of Mr. Joseph Hero, who was denied the opportunity to run for election for the St. John Town Council as a member of the Republican Party, and was removed from the Republican primary ballot.

Mr. Hero is a resident of Lake County, Indiana and has been a member of the Republican Party for nearly four decades. In early 2019, Mr. Hero filed the required paperwork to run as a member of the Republican Party for an at-large seat on the St. John Town Council. In February, the Lake County Election Board removed him from the primary ballot.

After supporting two independent candidates for local office in 2015, Mr. Hero received a letter in which he was deemed not to be a “Republican in good standing” and was “banned” from the Indiana Republican Party for ten years.

“Like many Americans, Mr. Hero considers himself to be open-minded. When deciding which candidates to support, he chooses to support the candidate that he believes will best represent his community, even if that candidate is not a member of the Republican Party,” said Stevie Pactor, ACLU of Indiana Staff Attorney. “Mr. Hero met all of the Indiana election law requirements and was unjustly removed from the ballot, infringing on his ballot-access rights.”

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, asserts that by removing Mr. Hero from the primary ballot, the Lake County Election Board violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution—effectively denying him the ability to run for office.

Attorneys on the case include Stevie J. Pactor and Gavin M. Rose, American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.

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