search
Sections List
American Journal News

House Speaker Mike Johnson has long opposed abortion and LGBTQ+ rights

Before the newly elected U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson was in public office, the Louisiana Republican’s restrictive stances on gender identity, abortion and sexuality were honed at the conservative Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, where he served as a senior spokesperson and attorney. Alliance Defending Freedom, or ADF, is the legal force behind dozens […]

By Amanda Becker, The 19th - November 02, 2023
Share

Before the newly elected U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson was in public office, the Louisiana Republican’s restrictive stances on gender identity, abortion and sexuality were honed at the conservative Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, where he served as a senior spokesperson and attorney.

Alliance Defending Freedom, or ADF, is the legal force behind dozens of the most restrictive abortion laws and pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in the country. It provided the model abortion ban enacted by Mississippi that led to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. ADF attorneys are challenging the FDA’s approval of medication abortion. And the organization represented a Colorado designer who successfully argued before the Supreme Court that making wedding websites for same-sex couples violated her personal beliefs.

Johnson, while at ADF, wrote opinion pieces for the newspaper in his hometown of Shreveport that called same-sex marriages “counterfeit legal arrangements” pushed by “radical homosexual advocacy groups” and opposed the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment nondiscrimination policies. When the Supreme Court in 2003 struck down anti-sodomy laws as unconstitutional, he wrote that “states have many legitimate grounds to proscribe same-sex deviate sexual intercourse.” (CNN’s K-File has created PDFs of the decades-old articles.) In two cases a decade apart, he defended Louisiana’s same-sex marriage ban before the state’s highest court.

Johnson’s path to the speakership was circuitous, but it puts an ally of one of the country’s most influential anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-abortion groups third in line for the presidency. Twenty-two days after the former speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, lost support from the right wing of his party — and his fellow Republicans rejected as replacements Reps. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio, among others — Johnson was elected in a 220-to-209 vote, with all Republicans in favor, all Democrats supporting Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York, and four lawmakers not voting. It was a stunning ascension, indicating the extent to which former President Donald Trump and aligned MAGA forces still wield influence over the GOP House nearly three years after he lost the 2020 election.

Johnson, after serving on Trump’s legal team during his first impeachment, was the “most important architect of the Electoral College objections” that led to the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the New York Times reported. He also led a friend-of-the-court brief in a case brought by the state of Texas that unsuccessfully sought to have the Supreme Court reject electoral votes from Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“I would be hard-pressed to think of a worse member to be elected speaker of the House,” said Allen Morris, policy director for the National LGBTQ Task Force. “Americans should consider his track record on the preservation of and maintenance of our very democracy as one that should concern us all.”

Now, as speaker, Johnson will have concrete duties like setting the House floor schedule as well as an informal but influential role shaping the Republican Party’s policy priorities as all 435 House seats are up for reelection next year, along with about a third of the Senate and the White House. Abortion was a liability for Republican candidates in the 2022 midterms, as disapproval of the Supreme Court’s June 2022 ruling in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization helped dampen Democratic losses, given historically poor midterms performances by the party that holds the presidency.

Johnson, the former head of the conservative Republican Study Committee, argued before Dobbs that abortion access was a states rights issue — but he has also supported federal legislation setting gestational limits, cosponsoring a bill to establish a 20-week ban. In a 2021 hearing on an abortion ban in Texas, Johnson testified that “when a woman is pregnant, science tells us that the new life she carries is a completely separate and full new human being from the moment of fertilization.” When life begins is a question often left to religion, not science.

As anti-abortion hardliners pursue personhood rights for fetuses, establishing life from the moment of fertilization to undergird policy could have profound implications not just for bodily autonomy and the ability to access abortions, but also contraception and fertility procedures. Johnson also opposed the Right to Contraception Act that the House approved last year, before Republicans regained control.

U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Louisiana, shakes hands with Rep. Andy Barr, R-Kentucky, as the House of Representatives holds an election for a new speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 25, 2023 in Washington, D.C.
U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Louisiana, left, shakes hands with Rep. Andy Barr, R-Kentucky, as the House of Representatives holds an election for a new speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 25, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

He is longtime friends with conservative anti-abortion Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, whose 2020 nomination and confirmation to the high court he supported with fervor. The anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America has given Johnson an A+ on its scorecard of those who oppose reproductive rights.

Rep. Nancy Mace, a Republican from South Carolina who supports some level of abortion access and is seen as a more moderate voice from her conference despite voting to oust McCarthy, told the Wall Street Journal that Johnson’s election was a “best case scenario.” Trump said in a short news conference that Johnson will “be a great speaker of the House, and we were very happy to have helped,” adding: “I think you’re going to be very proud of him.”

The group Americans for Contraception said in a statement after Johnson’s election that his record “leaves no room for debate: this is an individual who supports limiting access to essential healthcare services and infringing on Americans’ personal freedoms.”

A spokesperson for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’s reelection campaign, Ammar Moussa, called Johnson a “loyal foot soldier to ban abortion nationwide,” and said his election “cements the extreme MAGA takeover of the House Republican Conference.” In Biden’s official capacity, he called Johnson to offer congratulations, and said via a statement that “even though we have real disagreements about important issues, there should be mutual effort to find common ground wherever we can.”

Johnson is a Southern Baptist who has long held conservative views about gender roles and identity. He started developing a national profile back in the 1990s, when he and his wife, Kelly Johnson, did interviews discussing their covenant marriage, a type of union that limits when parties can seek divorce. Louisiana is one of just three states to offer this type of marriage, which requires premarital counseling and testifying that marriage is for life.

When Johnson first ran for his House seat in northwest Louisiana in 2016, he told a Baptist website that he felt “called to legal ministry,” saying: “I’ve been out 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 attack.” He pointed out that he pursued legislation that reflected these values when he was in the Louisiana state House from 2015 to 2017 and also as an ADF attorney.

Johnson continued once in the House, despite keeping a relatively under-the-radar profile. As vice chair of the House Republican Conference, he made clear that he opposes gender-affirming care for minors. He introduced a bill that would restrict the discussion and programming related to gender identity, sexual orientation and gender dysphoria with children at federally funded institutions — a federal “Don’t Say Gay” bill, according to its critics.

With a temporary government funding measure set to expire, Johnson assumes the gavel with just several weeks to pass a series of federal appropriations bills and avert a government shutdown. On X, formerly Twitter, Johnson pledged as speaker to “advance a comprehensive conservative policy agenda, combat the harmful policies of the Biden Administration, and support our allies abroad. And we will work to restore sanity to a government desperately in need of it.”


Read More
Biden campaign launches new ad focused on Affordable Care Act

Biden campaign launches new ad focused on Affordable Care Act

By Kim Lyons, Pennsylvania Capital-Star - May 08, 2024
Ohio doctors fear effects of emergency abortion care case set to go before U.S. Supreme Court

Ohio doctors fear effects of emergency abortion care case set to go before U.S. Supreme Court

By Susan Tebben, Ohio Capital Journal - April 23, 2024
House GOP votes to end flu, whooping cough vaccine rules for foster and adoptive families

House GOP votes to end flu, whooping cough vaccine rules for foster and adoptive families

By Anita Wadhwani, Tennessee Lookout - March 26, 2024
U.S. House Speaker Johnson says IVF should be protected — just not by Congress

U.S. House Speaker Johnson says IVF should be protected — just not by Congress

By Jennifer Shutt, States Newsroom - March 14, 2024
Idaho bill banning public funds for gender-affirming care goes to Senate

Idaho bill banning public funds for gender-affirming care goes to Senate

By Mia Maldonado, Idaho Capital Sun - March 14, 2024
Alabama passed a new IVF law. But questions remain.

Alabama passed a new IVF law. But questions remain.

By Alander Rocha, Alabama Reflector - March 11, 2024
AJ News
Latest
Ted Cruz leverages Trump conviction on podcast for own personal gain

Ted Cruz leverages Trump conviction on podcast for own personal gain

By Jesse Valentine - June 11, 2024
Arizona Republican Kari Lake proposes massive cuts to Medicaid and Medicare

Arizona Republican Kari Lake proposes massive cuts to Medicaid and Medicare

By Jesse Valentine - June 10, 2024
Virginia U.S. Senate candidate Hung Cao says workplace diversity is ‘Marxism’

Virginia U.S. Senate candidate Hung Cao says workplace diversity is ‘Marxism’

By Jesse Valentine - June 06, 2024
Republican Bernie Moreno’s rags-to-riches story exposed as a lie

Republican Bernie Moreno’s rags-to-riches story exposed as a lie

By Jesse Valentine - May 24, 2024
What happens to clinics after a state bans abortion? They fight to survive.

What happens to clinics after a state bans abortion? They fight to survive.

By Chabeli Carrazana and Shefali Luthra - May 22, 2024
Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte took job at Caterpillar after tax fraud probe

Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte took job at Caterpillar after tax fraud probe

By Jesse Valentine - May 21, 2024
Alabama OB-GYN residencies dropped over 20% after Dobbs, state abortion ban, says analysis

Alabama OB-GYN residencies dropped over 20% after Dobbs, state abortion ban, says analysis

By Alander Rocha, Alabama Reflector - May 21, 2024
House GOP celebrates National Police Week while pushing to defund local law enforcement

House GOP celebrates National Police Week while pushing to defund local law enforcement

By Jesse Valentine - May 16, 2024
Evolution denier Mark Robinson could reshape North Carolina’s education system

Evolution denier Mark Robinson could reshape North Carolina’s education system

By Jesse Valentine - May 16, 2024
Republican Jay Ashcroft backs anti-abortion clinics that push lies and disinformation

Republican Jay Ashcroft backs anti-abortion clinics that push lies and disinformation

By Jesse Valentine - May 14, 2024
Republican Sam Brown’s assault on teacher unions could backfire

Republican Sam Brown’s assault on teacher unions could backfire

By Jesse Valentine - May 09, 2024
Florida abortion ban puts GOP Rep. Anna Paulina Luna’s anti-choice views in spotlight

Florida abortion ban puts GOP Rep. Anna Paulina Luna’s anti-choice views in spotlight

By Jesse Valentine - May 07, 2024
Trump leaves door open to banning medication abortion nationwide

Trump leaves door open to banning medication abortion nationwide

By Jennifer Shutt, States Newsroom - April 30, 2024
Republican Caroleene Dobson wants Alabama abortion ban to go nationwide

Republican Caroleene Dobson wants Alabama abortion ban to go nationwide

By Jesse Valentine - April 30, 2024
Ohio Gov. DeWine said he didn’t know of millions in FirstEnergy support. Is it plausible?

Ohio Gov. DeWine said he didn’t know of millions in FirstEnergy support. Is it plausible?

By Marty Schladen, Ohio Capital Journal - April 29, 2024
GOP Rep. Zach Nunn suggests laws against hate crime aren’t needed

GOP Rep. Zach Nunn suggests laws against hate crime aren’t needed

By Jesse Valentine - April 15, 2024
GOP Senate candidate Hung Cao blames racial equity for Baltimore bridge tragedy

GOP Senate candidate Hung Cao blames racial equity for Baltimore bridge tragedy

By Jesse Valentine - March 29, 2024
GOP Rep. Jennifer Kiggans donates thousands to far-right extremists

GOP Rep. Jennifer Kiggans donates thousands to far-right extremists

By Jesse Valentine - March 08, 2024
Ohio senate candidate Bernie Moreno: “Absolute pro-life no exceptions.”

Ohio senate candidate Bernie Moreno: “Absolute pro-life no exceptions.”

By Jesse Valentine - March 07, 2024
Anti-China Republicans pocket thousands from Chinese owned conglomerate

Anti-China Republicans pocket thousands from Chinese owned conglomerate

By Jesse Valentine - March 04, 2024
Republican Eric Hovde makes inconsistent statements about family history

Republican Eric Hovde makes inconsistent statements about family history

By Jesse Valentine - February 26, 2024
Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

Republican David McCormick invests millions in website that platforms Holocaust denial

By Jesse Valentine - February 09, 2024
Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

Lawmakers will again take up bills expanding, tightening gun laws

By Annmarie Timmins, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 31, 2024
UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

UAW delivers rousing presidential endorsement for Biden over ‘scab’ Trump

By Ashley Murray, States Newsroom - January 24, 2024
Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

Republicans Sam Brown and Jeff Gunter sling mud in Nevada senate primary

By Jesse Valentine - January 17, 2024
A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

A Young Texas Woman Almost Died Due To The Texas Abortion Bans – Now She’s Battling To Save Other Women

By Bonnie Fuller - January 10, 2024
Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

Health care legislation preview: Maryland advocates want to focus on access, patients in 2024 session

By Danielle J. Brown, Maryland Matters - January 08, 2024
How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

How GOP senate hopefuls try to excuse the  January 6 insurrection

By Jesse Valentine - January 05, 2024
NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

NH lawmakers will be taking up major voting bills this year. Here are some to watch for.

By Ethan DeWitt, New Hampshire Bulletin - January 04, 2024
Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

Republican US Senate candidates want to make Trump’s tax cuts permanent 

By Jesse Valentine - December 22, 2023
Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

Rand Paul went all in on the Kentucky governor’s race. It didn’t work.

By - December 15, 2023
Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

Texas governor and attorney general do little to curb state’s chemical plant crisis

By Jesse Valentine - December 08, 2023
Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

Likely GOP Senate candidate Eric Hovde proposed tax hike for poorer workers and retirees

By Jesse Valentine - December 07, 2023
Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

Whitmer signs specific criminal penalties for assaulting health care workers into law

By Anna Liz Nichols, Michigan Advance - December 06, 2023
105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

105 Republicans voted to expel Santos for things Trump has also done

By Jesse Valentine - December 05, 2023
For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

For Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, another Trump term is another chance to kill Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - December 04, 2023
Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

Florida Sen. Rick Scott backs Donald Trump in revived push to repeal Obamacare

By Jesse Valentine - November 30, 2023
Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

Tate Reeves took donations from power company that hiked customer rates

By Jesse Valentine - November 06, 2023
Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

Daniel Cameron ran on depoliticizing the Kentucky AG’s office. He made it more political.

By Jesse Valentine - November 03, 2023
Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

Republican operatives sound every alarm on current trajectory of 2023 governor’s race

By Adam Ganucheau, Mississippi Today - October 24, 2023
‘We need something that works’: Activists call for more resources for gun violence prevention

‘We need something that works’: Activists call for more resources for gun violence prevention

By Lucy Valeski, Michigan Advance - June 07, 2024
‘Democracy begins with each of us,’ Biden says at site of D-Day invasion in Normandy

‘Democracy begins with each of us,’ Biden says at site of D-Day invasion in Normandy

By Jennifer Shutt, States Newsroom - June 07, 2024
Nessel, House LGBTQ+ Caucus warn that Trump and GOP endanger hard-fought rights 

Nessel, House LGBTQ+ Caucus warn that Trump and GOP endanger hard-fought rights 

By Jon King, Michigan Advance - June 06, 2024
Parents sue Florida Board of Education over book ban policy

Parents sue Florida Board of Education over book ban policy

By Mitch Perry, Florida Phoenix - June 06, 2024