Republicans have at long last elected a House speaker: Representative Mike Johnson, a fundamentalist Christian who was also once called a key “architect” in Congress’s efforts to overthrow the 2020 election.
Johnson finally secured the speaker’s gavel after Republican infighting left the House without a speaker for 22 days. He secured 220 votes.
Johnson is a four-term congressman representing Louisiana. His win also represents the rise of the MAGA front in the Republican Party. Earlier Wednesday morning, Donald Trump endorsed Johnson as House speaker—after quickly killing Tom Emmer’s nomination the day before.
After the 2020 presidential election, Johnson led the amicus brief signed by more than 100 Republicans that sought to overturn election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. And he publicly bragged that he did it because Donald Trump called him up.
On January 6, 2021, as hordes of rioters stormed the Capitol, 139 Republican representatives—two-thirds of the entire party—voted to dispute the Electoral College results. The New York Times described Johnson as key to this effort, calling him the “most important architect of the Electoral College objections.”
Johnson convinced his colleagues, based on his expertise in law, that the way to object the results was on the grounds of “constitutional infirmity.”
Many states changed election rules during the pandemic, allowing mail-in ballots and early voting systems without approval of state legislatures, which Johnson argued was unconstitutional and could be used to reject the results from those states.
Johnson previously worked as senior attorney and spokesperson for Alliance Defending Freedom, or ADF, a Southern Poverty Law Center–designated hate group that pushes its far-right agenda through the courts. Johnson is also an evangelical Christian who has said, “My faith informs everything I do.”
That may include his history of using extreme, homophobic language. CNN uncovered some of his previous rhetoric, which includes calling homosexuality “inherently unnatural” and a “dangerous lifestyle” that would lead to legalized pedophilia and could destroy “the entire democratic system.”
“Experts project that homosexual marriage is the dark harbinger of chaos and sexual anarchy that could doom even the strongest republic,” he wrote in another 2004 column.
While working with the ADF, Johnson wrote an amicus brief opposing the Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned state laws criminalizing gay sex.
He has also opposed LGBTQ rights at every other turn. He voted against bipartisan legislation to codify same-sex marriage, which President Biden signed into law earlier this year. In 2022, he introduced what advocates called a federal “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The legislation would have banned classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation through the third grade. Johnson called the bill “common sense.”
He has voted for a national abortion ban and co-sponsored at least three bills that would restrict abortion on a nationwide level. The anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America has given him an A+ rating.
In his spare time, Johnson hosts a religious podcast with his wife called “Truth Be Told.”
Ahead of the House floor on Wednesday, Democratic Representative Pete Aguilar warned the chamber about the Times’ quote calling Johnson an architect of the Electoral College objections.
Republican Representative Anna Paulina Luna publicly cheered, “Damn right!”
This article has been updated.