Supreme Court Declines to Hear Senate Candidate’s Appeal for Law License

Mark McCloskey 'disappointed' but 'not surprised'
By Matthew Vadum
Matthew Vadum
Matthew Vadum
contributor
Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative journalist and a recognized expert in left-wing activism.
June 6, 2022 Updated: June 6, 2022

The Supreme Court decided on June 6 not to hear the appeal of a U.S. Senate candidate whose law license was restricted after he wielded a gun outside his St. Louis home in 2020 to deter a group of trespassing left-wing protesters in the midst of nationwide race riots.

Attorney Mark McCloskey is currently running for a U.S. Senate seat as a Republican. The primary election will take place in Missouri on Aug. 2.

McCloskey argued in his petition to the high court that he shouldn’t be punished as a lawyer for exercising his constitutional right of self-defense.

McCloskey and his wife, Patricia, were honored speakers at the 2020 Republican National Convention for defending their home on June 28, 2020, during violent nationwide protests organized by Black Lives Matter and Antifa. The couple, both lawyers, gained folk hero status in the conservative movement as a result of the encounter. They were sanctioned by the bar in Missouri for displaying firearms in the presence of what they said was an angry mob they believed intended to harm them.

The Supreme Court case is McCloskey v. Missouri Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, court file 21-1440. The justices turned away the petition from the couple without comment, which is their usual practice when denying an appeal.

Mark McCloskey told The Epoch Times after the Supreme Court handed down its decision that he was “disappointed” in the ruling.

“I was not surprised because so few cases are taken up by the Supreme Court,” McCloskey said.

“Of course, I was disappointed, I was kind of hoping that the Supreme Court would find some general significance for the concept of a lawyer being sanctioned for doing no more than defending himself, but you know, these days it’s hard to predict.”

McCloskey acknowledged the confrontation with the demonstrators provided him a media platform for expressing his political views but said his “anti-leftist stance” is nothing new.

“It was certainly an event, which made a difference in the course of our lives, but my political philosophy was deeply ingrained in me since my teenage years—as I regularly say, they just came knocking on the wrong door,” he said.

Armed homeowners Mark and Patricia McCloskey
Armed homeowners Mark and Patricia McCloskey stand in front of their house along Portland Place to confront protesters in the Central West End of St. Louis, on June 28, 2020. (Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

“My anti-leftist stance has been widely known among all my friends and relatives for as long as I’ve been able to speak and my campaign against the gradual, and now ferocious, attack on our civil rights has been going on for decades. It gave me a voice that I didn’t have earlier, but it certainly wasn’t a significant change in my attitude, my politics, or my determination to save this country.”

The case, which involved prosecutorial misconduct, received national media attention. Kimberly Gardner, a Democrat and St. Louis’s first black chief prosecutor, who has accused local police of racism, was removed from the case in December 2020 by Circuit Judge Thomas Clark II for using the incident in inflammatory campaign fundraising emails. Clark ruled that Gardner’s behavior raised “the appearance of impropriety” and “jeopardized the defendants’ right to a fair trial.”

The McCloskeys said they were justified in holding their firearms outside of their home to dissuade the crowd. The couple had originally been charged with felony-level unlawful use of a weapon, but prosecutors reached a plea deal with them to reduce the severity of the charges.

Mark McCloskey entered a guilty plea to a class C misdemeanor of assault in the fourth degree and agreed to a $750 fine. His wife entered a guilty plea to a Class A misdemeanor of harassment in the second degree and accepted a $2,000 fine.

The McCloskeys were pardoned in July 2021 by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican.

Then-President Donald Trump praised Parson and the couple after the pardon, 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.”

Despite the pardons, on Feb. 8, the Missouri Supreme Court indefinitely suspended the law licenses of the McCloskeys after their misdemeanor convictions. The court found that by displaying their weapons, the McCloskeys had engaged in unlawyerly conduct involving “moral turpitude.” At the same time, the court stayed the suspension, subject to a year of probation during which the two attorneys must “not engage in conduct that violates the Rules of Professional Conduct.”

Moral turpitude is a legal term describing “wicked, deviant behavior constituting an immoral, unethical, or unjust departure from ordinary social standards such that it would shock a community,” according to the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School.

In their petition (pdf) to the U.S. Supreme Court, the couple stated that the disciplinary action taken against them violates the Second and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The court should rule that “as a matter of constitutional law … a lawyer does not engage in conduct involving ‘moral turpitude’ when undertaking actions protected by the United States Constitution, in particular the Second Amendment.”

The Epoch Times didn’t receive an immediate reply from Leawood, Kansas-based lawyer Edward D. Robertson Jr., who is the counsel of record for the Missouri Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel.

 

Matthew Vadum
contributor
Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative journalist and a recognized expert in left-wing activism.