The Republican Party, who are in the majority in the House Of Representatives in the US, have chosen a new Speaker Of The House. Representative Mike Johnson from Louisiana has won the position, it was announced on October 25.
Mr Johnson has ties to controversial right-wing figures and his career reads like a highlights reel of conservative Christo-facism. In this following article, we wanted to provide the facts and figures that helped illuminate critiques of Johnson as his new position sits just two heartbeats away from the most powerful office in the world.
The speaker of the House of Representatives is the highest-ranking legislative official in the US government and holds special powers which include selection of the Committee of Rules, decision over which committee will consider new bills and their vote in House debates is often decisive.
He believes in criminalising same-sex relations
The following article with quotes from Mike Johnson was written in 2003 and may not reflect his current values, but they contribute to a well-rounded perspective on the trajectory of his public and political career.
In 2003, Johnson wrote about the Supreme Court’s Lawrence Vs Texas ruling: “Proscriptions against sodomy have deep roots in religion, politics and law. States have always maintained the right to discourage the evils of sexual conduct outside of marriage, and the state is right to discriminate between heterosexual and homosexual conduct since the latter cannot occur within the confines of a marriage.”
“Homosexuals do not meet the criteria for a suspect class under the equal protection clause because they are neither disadvantaged nor identified on the basis of immutable characteristics, as all are capable of changing their abnormal lifestyles.”
Before his career in politics, Johnson was a lawyer who partnered with a now-defunct non-profit called Exodus International. The company were considered leaders in the so-called “ex-gay” movement that attempted to turn gay people straight. These practices involved the use of conversion therapy and have been condemned by all major medical and psychiatric organisations, with some describing the practice as torture.
Johnson worked as a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF). He and his group collaborated with Exodus from 2006 to 2010. With the ADF, Johnson also worked to promote an event in 2006 called the Day Of Truth. This event was intended to counteract the Day Of Silence event where students stayed silent to bring awareness to bullying faced by LGBTQIA+ youth.
Johnson is a devout Christian and his faith has led him to make questionable remarks about democracy. An interview from 2016 has surfaced where Johnson claims that the US democratic system was set up to follow the “biblical admonition” regarding how a civil society should be.
His exact quotes:
“We don’t live in a democracy, because a democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what’s for dinner. It’s not just majority rule it’s a constitutional republic. And the founders set that up because they followed the biblical admonition on what a civil society is supposed to look like.”
“What’s happened, Alex, over the last 60 or 70 years, is that our generation has been convinced that there is a separation of church and state. Most people think that that’s part of the Constitution, but it’s not.”
Following the presidential election in 2020, Johnson’s legal interpretation stirred controversy within the Republican Party and validated concerns for some that the election was invalid. By creating a legal foundation for Republicans to pin their objections to, many were able to attest to the Electoral College vote. Critics claim Johnson was an instrumental cause of discord in the House and is part and parcel of the January 6 insurrection.
On the morning of January 6, 2021, Johnson tweeted saying: “We MUST fight for election integrity, the Constitution, and the preservation of our republic! It will be my honor to help lead that fight in Congress today. The statement I drafted summarizes our position and the legal analysis that supports it.”
Deeper Ties To Trump
Johnson is a known affiliate and ally of former president Donald Trump being part of his legal team fighting the impeachment trial that Trump faced in 2019 for the scandal over attempted coercion of Ukraine and other countries preceding the 2020 election. Johnson also worked as part of Trump’s legal team for his 2021 impeachment trial for incitement to insurrection.
In the case of both trials, Donald Trump was acquitted.
No Declared Bank Accounts Or Assets
The Daily Beast reports that “dating back to 2016, the year he joined Congress, Johnson never reported having a savings or checking account in his name, his spouse’s name, or in the name of any of his children. In his latest filing, which covers last year, he doesn’t list a single asset either. Which, given that he made more than $200,000 last year—in addition to his wife’s salary—is more than a little odd.”
Where a politician’s money comes from and who it goes towards is important. Without a transparent declaration of income, assets and interests, democracy can be undermined by self-interest. Earning a salary of approximately USD200,000 per annum, he must have a bank account somewhere.
Mike Johnson is an intelligent and capable politician with an evidenced history of anti-LGBTQIA+ stances and deep religious fervour and he now sits in one of the highest legislative offices in the US. He is second-in-line for the presidency and has powers that can direct the debate of new bills in congress. Political science teaches that it is prudent to be aware of who sits in power and what their objectives may be; because no individual is without prejudice in politics.