SCOTUS declines to hear appeal from McCloskeys, couple who pointed guns at protesters

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a petition from Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the couple who pointed guns at Black Lives Matters protesters outside their St. Louis, Mo., home.

The court declined to hear the McCloskeys’ appeal as they attempted to end a probationary period tied to a suspension of their law licenses instituted by the Missouri Supreme Court in February. The McCloskeys, who are white, were photographed pointing guns (Mark with an AR-15-style rifle, Patricia with a pistol) at racial justice protesters marching past their palatial suburban home in late June 2020.

Mark and Patricia McCloskey in front their house holding guns as they confronted protesters.
Mark and Patricia McCloskey in front of their house in St. Louis on June 28, 2020, as they confronted protesters. (Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS via ZUMA Wire)

While the state’s chief disciplinary counsel had pushed for a suspension of their licenses, the state Supreme Court instead instituted a one-year probation, meaning they’re allowed to practice law but are required to “provide 100 hours of pro bono legal services” and report any other criminal charges or job changes. They must complete the probation to avoid having their law licenses suspended.

The pair pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and harassment charges and turned in their guns in June 2021 after their defense attorney successfully pushed to remove a prosecutor seeking felonies for unlawful use of a weapon and evidence tampering. Shortly thereafter, they purchased a new AR-15-style gun and were pardoned by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican.

Mark and Patricia McCloskey.
The McCloskeys near the courthouse during Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial in Kenosha, Wis., on Nov. 16, 2021. (Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via ZUMA Press Wire)

“As many of you know, Patty and I faced political prosecution for having the audacity to defend our lives and property from an angry mob,” Mark McCloskey wrote in an August 2021 statement. “Today we are incredibly thankful that Governor Mike Parson righted this wrong and granted us pardons.”

Former President Donald Trump, who had supported the McCloskeys after the initial incident, praised the move, saying, “They were defending their property and if they had not done what they did, their property would have been completely destroyed and they would have been badly beaten, or dead — great going Mike!”

In their petition to the Supreme Court, the McCloskeys argued that their Second Amendment rights were being violated, and noted the pardon and the fact that their actions had been praised by Trump. The couple were denied cert — meaning that fewer than four justices wanted to hear the case — despite a six-to-three conservative majority on the court, which includes three justices appointed by Trump.

The McCloskeys have attempted to use the viral photos to rise in the ranks of Republican politics. They appeared at a virtual Trump campaign event and spoke at the 2020 Republican National Convention, falsely claiming that Joe Biden wanted to “abolish the suburbs.” Mark McCloskey launched a bid for the Senate seat being left open by retiring GOP Sen. Roy Blunt but has been polling a distant fourth. Mark McCloskey had attempted to take a pro bono position advising the right-wing media group Project Veritas to fulfill the 100-hour requirement of the probation, but the state Supreme Court denied the request, saying it was not an “approved legal assistance organization.”