Attorney general who defended gun-toting Missouri couple runs for Senate

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Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said Mark and Patricia McCloskey were just 'defending their property and safety.'

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said on Wednesday that he will seek the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate seat that will open up next year with the retirement of GOP Sen. Roy Blunt. Schmitt's campaign website highlights his right-wing views, which were on display in his high-profile defense of a St. Louis couple who aimed guns at people walking near their property during a protest on June 28, 2020.

"In my public service, I have never quit fighting for Missouri and our conservative values," Schmitt said in his announcement. "Missourians deserve a life-long conservative who they know will never quit fighting for them."

During the protest, about 300 people entered a private gated neighborhood as they marched peacefully to the home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson to demand that she resign after she publicized the names and addresses of protesters who called for defunding the police. As the crowd walked by their house, Mark McCloskey held a rifle, and his wife Patricia pointed a handgun at them.

The McCloskeys were each charged with a felony count of unlawful use of a weapon.

Schmitt made national news for his defense of the couple, filing a brief on July 20 demanding the charges against them be dropped.

"The right to keep and bear arms is given the highest level of protection in our constitution and our laws, including the Castle Doctrine. This provides broad rights to Missourians who are protecting their property and lives from those who wish to do them harm," he said in a press statement. "Despite this, Circuit Attorney [Kim] Gardner filed charges against the McCloskeys, who, according to published reports, were defending their property and safety."

The couple pleaded not guilty, and the case is ongoing.

In August 2019, Schmitt joined an amicus brief filed in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Bostock v. Clayton County that argued the federal Civil Rights Act does not protect LGBTQ people against employment discrimination. Their brief says that "the plain meaning of 'sex' is biological status as male or female, not sexual orientation or gender identity."

The conservative U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 for LGBTQ rights.

In December 2019, Schmitt came to the defense of a Cameron, Missouri, high school football coach who was accused of violating establishment clause in the First Amendment to the Constitution against government endorsement of a religion by leading students in prayer. Schmitt defended the coach's actions and called the civil liberties group that had filed a complaint against the coach "an extreme anti-religion organization that seeks to intimidate local governments into surrendering their citizens' religious freedom and to expunge any mention of religion from the public square."

Schmitt's campaign website includes his defense of the "religious liberties" of the coach as one of his accomplishments. "Eric supported the coach's fight against the Freedom From Religion Foundation, making clear the actions of the coach did not violate the Constitution since no player was forced to participate."

Last year, Schmitt led an effort by Republican-led states to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. He recruited several other Republican attorneys general who joined him in backing a failed challenge to Pennsylvania's election procedures in the U.S. Supreme Court.

They echoed Trump's debunked claims of widespread voter fraud and argued that by ruling a state election law unconstitutional, Pennsylvania's Supreme Court had illegally "overstepped their bounds and encroached on the legislature's authority."

The Supreme Court quickly rejected the case without even holding a hearing, but Schmitt includes it on his campaign site.

That site says if he's elected, Schmitt will "save our values, our culture, and our country" and work to "stop radical cancel culture"

Blunt announced earlier this month that he will not seek reelection in November 2022. Among the rivals Schmitt will likely face in the GOP Senate primary is former Gov. Eric Greitens, who resigned in 2018 after an alleged revenge porn scandal.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.