Mike Johnson was elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, October 25th, 2023.
Johnson is not one of the more senior Representatives nor is he well-known nationally. As a result, many news outlets are running stories informing the nation about this little-known figure who has just become second in line for the Presidency.
Johnson spent two years, from September 2010 through August 2012, as the founding dean of the Pressler School of Law. However, this seems to be missing from almost all reporting.
Neither Johnson’s Wikipedia page nor his official biography on his congressional website make any mention of his time as founding dean. His official bio does mention that he was a college professor which actually seems to be a reference to his time as dean, though it is not clear. It is unusual for a biography to not note the more prestigious position.
Pressler Law School
There was a lot of controversy surrounding the law school.
Pressler Law School never opened. Louisiana College (now Louisiana Christian University) was once aggressive in trying to establish new programs announcing a law school, a medical school, and a film school, none of which came to fruition, and a divinity school that lasted only a few years. Johnson was the founding dean of the law school that spent around $5.5 million in development but never admitted a single student.
Louisiana College President Joe Aguillard, who hired Johnson, ended his tenure in controversy due to several scandals surrounding him- from forged documents to ones sexual in nature. His leadership led to a student strike. Finally, he was forced out and eventually escorted off campus by security.
Judge Paul Pressler, after whom the school was named, has been accused of raping multiple teenage boys and in one case agreed to pay $450,000 to one of the accusers for physical abuse.
Louisiana College flirted with Christian nationalism through its promotion of David Barton and the ideology the Pressler Law School looked to follow suit. This is consistent with the rest of Johnson’s career who spent years working with Alliance Defending Freedom, a hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In 2022, Johnson spoke at the 7th annual Value and Ethics series at Louisiana Christian University where he advocated Christian nationalist positions. In this speech, he presented a rough timeline of American history that identified times of slavery and segregation within periods of “Biblical morality.”
- 1700 — 1940: Biblical morality (Things are right and wrong because the Bible says so.)
- 1940 — 1960: Biblical morality (Things are right and wrong because society says so.)
- 1960 — 1980: Immorality (Things are right and wrong, but we don’t care anymore.)
- 1980 — Today: Amorality (Right and wrong are subjective, find “your truth.”)
Johnson is not temperamentally Trumpian but he has been an ideological ally. He promoted election-denying conspiracy theories and was a key architect of the independent state legislature theory that was used to attempt to overturn the 2020 election results. On January 6, 2021, he voted not to certify the election of President Joe Biden.