Who is Mike Johnson, the new Speaker of the House?

Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., takes the oath to be the new House speaker from the Dean of the House Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

By Keya Vakil

October 25, 2023

The new House Republican leader supports a nationwide abortion ban, played a key role in trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election, and opposes same-sex marriage. 

House Republicans on Wednesday finally chose their new leader, electing Louisiana Congressman Mike Johnson as the new Speaker of the House. 

The election of Johnson, an evangelical conservative and former attorney, culminates a month-long saga that saw Republicans oust former leader Kevin McCarthy from the speakership role and then fight amongst themselves for 22 days over  who should replace him.

In Johnson, the party has selected one the most conservative House Speakers in history.

Here are three things to know about him:

1. He supports a nationwide abortion ban

Johnson has long opposed reproductive freedom and spent years working at the Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ legal organization that helped overturn Roe v. Wade. During his time at the group, he fought to shut down an abortion clinic in Louisiana.

After being elected to the House, Johnson pushed Donald Trump to appoint Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court so that she would vote to overturn Roe. When Barrett and her fellow conservative Justices on the Court did overturn Roe, Johnson celebrated, calling it a “historic and joyful” day.

Johnson also signed onto a nationwide abortion ban after Roe was repealed.

2. He was a leader in the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election

Johnson was the leading architect of House Republicans’ effort to block certification of the 2020 presidential election results in a bid to help Donald Trump stay in the White House. He spread lies about nonexistent voter fraud, embraced conspiracy theories about voting machines from Venezuela, and claimed “the fix was in.” 

Pivotally, he led more than 100 House Republicans in signing onto a legal brief seeking to  invalidate the 2020 election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, four swing states won by President Joe Biden. On Jan. 6 2021, after a mob of Trump supporters launched a deadly attack on the US Capitol, Johnson voted against certifying the election results.

When a reporter asked about his role in these efforts on Tuesday, Johnson refused to answer as his Republican peers laughed and mocked the reporter.

Perhaps most importantly, if Republicans retain control of the House in the 2024 elections and Johnson remains House Speaker, he will be tasked with overseeing the certification of the 2024 presidential election results. 

3. Johnson opposes same-sex marriage and has a history of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric

Johnson opposes gay marriage and during his time at the Alliance Defending Freedom, he filed a lawsuit defending Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage. 

More recently, he introduced an anti-LGBTQ bill last year that would have banned discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity at any institution that received federal funds.

CNN also reported on Wednesday that Johnson has a history of using inflammatory, anti-gay language in editorials, columns, and op-eds written during his time at Alliance Defending Freedom.

“Homosexual relationships are inherently unnatural and, the studies clearly show, are ultimately harmful and costly for everyone,” Johnson wrote in a 2004 editorial in support of a Louisiana amendment banning same-sex marriage.

“Society cannot give its stamp of approval to such a dangerous lifestyle. If we change marriage for this tiny, modern minority, we will have to do it for every deviant group,” he continued. “Polygamists, polyamorists, pedophiles, and others will be next in line to claim equal protection. They already are. There will be no legal basis to deny a bisexual the right to marry a partner of each sex, or a person to marry his pet.”

In a 2003 July op-ed, Johnson wrote that “States have many legitimate grounds to proscribe same-sex deviate sexual intercourse.”

And in a 2004 column, Johnson predicted same-sex marriage might doom America.

“Experts project that homosexual marriage is the dark harbinger of chaos and sexual anarchy that could doom even the strongest republic.”

Author

  • Keya Vakil

    Keya Vakil is the deputy political editor at COURIER. He previously worked as a researcher in the film industry and dabbled in the political world.

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