House Republicans elect a Christian extremist as Speaker

Rep. Mike Johnson (R), representing Louisiana’s 4th District (Shreveport-Bossier City), was unanimously elected Speaker of the House by all 220 Republicans present yesterday. He is a member of the far-right Freedom Caucus and sits on the House Judiciary Committee and Armed Services Committee.

DEMOCRACY

If you need to know one thing about Johnson, it is that he played a central role in crafting the legal reasoning to overturn the 2020 election. As a former constitutional lawyer, Johnson was able to provide legitimate-sounding talking points for Republicans to support Trump, hiding the fact that what they were actually doing was undermining democracy and igniting an insurrection.

NYT: In December 2020, Mr. Johnson collected signatures for a legal brief in support of a Texas lawsuit, rooted in baseless claims of widespread election irregularities, that tried to throw out the results in four battleground states won by Joseph R. Biden Jr. The Supreme Court ultimately rejected the suit, but not before Mr. Johnson persuaded more than 60 percent of House Republicans to sign onto the effort.

NYT: Two-thirds of [House Republicans] — 139 in all — had been voting on Jan. 6, 2021, to dispute the Electoral College count that would seal Donald J. Trump’s defeat just as rioters determined to keep the president in power stormed the chamber… In formal statements justifying their votes, about three-quarters relied on the arguments of a low-profile Louisiana congressman, Representative Mike Johnson, the most important architect of the Electoral College objections.

On the eve of the Jan. 6 votes, he presented colleagues with what he called a “third option.” He faulted the way some states had changed voting procedures during the pandemic, saying it was unconstitutional, without supporting the outlandish claims of Mr. Trump’s most vocal supporters. His Republican critics called it a Trojan horse that allowed lawmakers to vote with the president while hiding behind a more defensible case.

Johnson not only voted to overturn the 2020 election, he also voted against establishing the select committee to investigate the January 6th insurrection.

ABORTION

Before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2016, Johnson worked as a lawyer representing Christian clients. He described his legal career as being “on the front lines of the ‘culture war’ defending religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, and biblical values, including the defense of traditional marriage, and other ideals like these when they’ve been under assault.”

Johnson has co-sponsored at least four bills that would enact national abortion bans:

Earlier this year, Johnson was the lead sponsor of a bill that would make it a crime to transport a minor across state lines to obtain an abortion without parental notification—regardless of the parental notification laws in the medical office’s jurisdiction.

Johnson also has a history of making radical anti-abortion statements:

After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Louisiana strengthened its abortion trigger law, Johnson celebrated on Twitter, saying, “And now… FINALLY… because Roe v. Wade was overturned last summer and Louisiana is now a proudly pro-life state— we will get the number of abortions to ZERO!! EVERYONE deserves a birthday. Thanks be to God.”

During a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Johnson attacked Roe v. Wade, saying that if American women were producing more bodies to fuel the economy Republicans wouldn’t have to cut essential social programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

“Roe v. Wade gave constitutional cover to the elective killing of unborn children in America. Period. You think about the implications of that on the economy. We’re all struggling here to cover the bases of Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid and all the rest. If we had all those able-bodied workers in the economy, we wouldn’t be going upside down and toppling over like this.”

LGBTQ+ RIGHTS

Before winning election to the U.S. House of Representatives, Johnson worked as an attorney and spokesperson for Alliance Defending Freedom, which is designated a hate group by the Southern Law Poverty Center for its anti-LGBTQ+ campaigns. During his time with the organization, Johnson wrote an op-ed arguing that Lawrence v. Texas, a Supreme Court case ruling that states cannot criminalize homosexual conduct, should be overturned. “There is clearly no ‘right to sodomy’ in the Constitution…by closing these bedroom doors, they have opened a Pandora’s box,” Johnson said.

Two years later, in 2005, Johnson received the Family Research Council’s “Faith, Family, and Freedom Award” for helping to push through Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage. While defending the amendment, Johnston wrote that allowing same-sex marriage would lead to legal pedophilia and people marrying their pets.

Johnson brought this Christian extremist zeal into his work as a lawmaker, first at the state and then at the federal level.

  • As a state legislator, Johnson introduced the “Marriage and Conscience Act,” which would have prevented the state of Louisiana from prosecuting anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination.
  • As a U.S. representative, Johnson authored the national “Don’t Say Gay” bill (formally titled the “Stop the Sexualization of Children Act”) to strip funding from schools and organizations that teach children about “gender identity, gender dysphoria, transgenderism, [or] sexual orientation.”
  • Johnson co-sponsored Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Protect Children’s Innocence Act, which would prohibit gender-affirming care for minors.
  • Johnson co-sponsored the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023, which would ban transgender athletes from women’s and girls’ sports at federally funded schools and educational institutions.

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