The newly elected Speaker of the House once worked as an attorney for a far-right Christian legal group whose work you are almost certainly familiar with. The Alliance Defending Freedom — where Johnson was once an attorney and a spokesperson — is the group behind many of the most recent legal attacks on reproductive rights and the LGBTQ community.
Most recently, the group represented the plaintiff in 303 Creative v. Elenis, in which the Supreme Court sided with the plaintiff arguing the First Amendment allows businesses to discriminate for religious reasons if the business offers “expressive” services. ADF was also part of the team defending Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban before the Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case where the Supreme Court ultimately overturned Roe v. Wade.
But back in the mid-2000s when Johnson was a member of the ADF team, then called the Alliance Defense Fund, the group was active in a case that reached the high court focused on overturning the criminalization of gay sex, Lawrence v. Texas. While the ADF filed an amicus brief in the case that bolstered arguments for keeping homosexual activity illegal, Johnson personally wrote several editorials supporting ADF’s ideology.
CNN’s KFILE Team dug up some of Johnson’s old op-eds, including one from July 2003 in which the now-speaker argued that same-sex intercourse was a public health concern, among other things. Per CNN:
In editorials that ran in his local Shreveport, Louisiana, paper, The Times, Johnson called homosexuality a “inherently unnatural” and “dangerous lifestyle” that would lead to legalized pedophilia and possibly even destroy “the entire democratic system.”
And, in another editorial, he wrote, “Your race, creed, and sex are what you are, while homosexuality and cross-dressing are things you do,” he wrote. “This is a free country, but we don’t give special protections for every person’s bizarre choices.”
CNN is just one of many among news outlets and advocacy groups surfacing old clips and statements today upon Johnson’s election that highlight his extremism. Not only is Johnson a full-throated election denier who voted against certifying the election, he was the man who crafted and elevated a legal “theory” about pandemic mail-in voting that House Republicans pointed to as rationale for why the election was fraudulent and the results shouldn’t be certified.
His record on abortion is equally as extreme: He’s one of many House Republicans willing to fully embrace a national ban on the procedure. House Judiciary Democrats surfaced and circulated this clip on Twitter today to highlight his … unhinged positioning:
As my colleague Kate Riga noted repeatedly in today’s live coverage of the speakership shenanigans, Democrats are already happily pinning the new speaker’s abortion absolutism on the backs of the entire party as a messaging strategy against vulnerable Republicans heading into 2024.
As DCCC Chair Suzan DelBene (D-WA) told Kate just moments ago, “there are no moderates left on the Republican side.”
The Best Of TPM Today
Here’s what you should read this evening:
Catch up on our live coverage here: Republicans Elect Lesser-Known Election Denier As New Speaker
In case you missed yesterday’s speakership stupidity, dig in: Republicans Applaud Themselves For Barely Managing To Nominate A Fourth Candidate
Yesterday’s Most Read Story
Republicans Applaud Themselves For Barely Managing To Nominate A Fourth Candidate — Emine Yücel and Nicole Lafond