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John Rust petitions U.S. Supreme Court to evaluate Indiana’s party affiliation statute



Indianapolis, Indiana – In an appeal to the US Supreme Court, John Rust—who was earlier this year denied entrance to the GOP primary ballot in Indiana—is requesting reconsideration of the Hoosier high court’s split March ruling, which derailed his candidacy.

On Monday, Rust submitted a 217-page petition to the Supreme Court. In it, he makes the case that the “harsh ballot access laws” in Indiana, which prevent him and “over 81% of all Hoosiers from being on primary ballots,” ought to be reviewed by the judges.

According to the petition, Indiana’s ballot access restrictions “cater to political party bosses, disenfranchising party members and voters,” and are “uniquely harsh” and “do not serve any legitimate state interest.” Furthermore, according to Rust, the standards used by the Supreme Court to evaluate ballot access disputes “need to be revisited and clarified.”

Following the unanimous vote in March by the Indiana Election Division to deny Rust’s Republican candidacy, he has made this request.

An Indiana party affiliation statute that forbids candidates from running if their previous two primary votes do not align with the party they want to represent served as the foundation for the state panel’s ruling.

Oral arguments would probably not take place until early next year if the U.S. Supreme Court takes the case, according to Rust’s legal representative. Nevertheless, Rust stated that he anticipates learning by this autumn if the court would consider the matter.

“As I promised when the Indiana Supreme Court’s opinion was issued, I will continue to fight for ballot access for all constitutionally qualified Hoosiers,” Rust said in a statement. “At a time when hard-working Americans feel their voices are not heard and their votes do not matter, this is a battle that has to be fought. I will never stop fighting for Hoosiers and all Americans.”

Despite Rust’s months-long pursuit, he was unable to secure the Republican Party’s U.S. Senate candidacy against U.S. Representative Jim Banks due to a state statute requiring candidates to have received at least two votes in their most previous primaries in the same party.

The egg farmer from Seymour voted Democrat in 2012 but Republican in 2016. Should the county chair of the party decide to give an exception, the legislation permits it. Amanda Lowery, the chair of the Jackson County Republican Party, decided not to in this instance.

He filed a lawsuit to be allowed to cast a Republican ballot, claiming that the law prevented the great majority of Hoosiers from running as candidates for their party of choice.

Judge Patrick J. Dietrick of Marion County Superior Court ruled in December that the two-primary requirement is unconstitutional. The state, however, filed an appeal, and the Indiana Supreme Court, finding a “significant public interest,” expedited the case.

He was declared disqualified in findings from the Indiana Supreme Court and the Indiana Election Commission in February. Rust filed for a rehearing after the commission referenced the legislation, which the Supreme Court supported in a decision.

Rust said in his SCOTUS appeal that he must “abandon his party affiliation to gain ballot access and denies voters choices on the primary ballot” in accordance with the majority ruling of the Indiana Supreme Court. Rust stressed in his brief that “the primary election often is the election” because Indiana is a Republican supermajority state.

Additionally, he said that most Indianaans do not cast ballots in primaries. The Indiana Supreme Court’s ruling used data ranging from 2010 to 2022, indicating that the state’s average turnout for primary elections was roughly 15%.

“As such, a requirement that a primary candidate needs to have voted in two elections, consecutively, and for the same party, severely limits candidates in Indiana primaries,” the SCOTUS petition said. “Limited choices and uncontested races leads to voters not participating. Indiana has created a cycle of voter/candidate disenfranchisement.”

Additionally, according to Rust, changes in party allegiance are prohibited by Indiana’s party affiliation statute. A candidate is “locked into voting” in that party’s primary for a maximum of four years in order to be eligible to appear on the ballot for either major party.

According to Rust in the petition, this implies that would-be candidates “are not free to change their mind, make their voices heard on individual issues, or vote their consciences if doing so breaks party lines.”

“This denies most Hoosiers freedom of association and the ability to vote effectively,” he continued.

Rust stated that in assessing the obstacles to the ballot as a whole, the Supreme Court ought to assess Indiana’s mandate that candidates for the U.S. Senate gather 4,500 signatures in favor of their candidacies, 500 from each of the state’s nine congressional districts.

“Indeed, the petitioning requirement alone precludes many candidacies,” he said in the petition. “Collecting ballot signatures is time-consuming and expensive. And the affiliation statute here should be evaluated based on Indiana’s entire ballot access scheme, including taking the petitioning requirement into account.”

Rust has always promised to take his case all the way to the US Supreme Court because he believes the ruling made by the Indiana Supreme Court “is in error.” Rust’s other options were restricted because early voting had already begun and ballots for the May primary had already been printed.
Rust earlier stated to the Indiana Capital Chronicle that he has chosen to “100% close” his Senate campaign, even if he “may” run for politics again in the future.
In May, he filed to dissolve his committee and formally emptied his campaign funds.

“ … Rust is not seeking to vindicate his right to run for office but rather his right to freely associate with the Republican party,” Rust and his legal counsel wrote in the petition. “He should not have to abandon his party affiliation to gain ballot access. And if he did so, he would face being banned by the Republican party …”

In the end, Banks ran unopposed in the May primary and comfortably won his party’s nomination to compete for the U.S. Senate seat that is open in Indiana. In the main election in November, he will run against libertarian Andrew Horning and Democrat Valerie McCray, a professional psychologist.

Republican Mike Braun, who won the GOP nomination for governor of Indiana, is stepping down from his Senate seat. In November, he will take against Democratic candidate Jennifer McCormick and Libertarian candidate Donald Rainwater.