Our New House Speaker Has Been Against No-Fault Divorce for Years

Scarily enough, Mike Johnson’s history of hard-line stances on divorce is in line with what we’re increasingly seeing from the right and Republican party.

Our New House Speaker Has Been Against No-Fault Divorce for Years
Photo:Win McNamee (Getty Images)

Earlier this week, I had the distinct displeasure of introducing you to our new House Speaker, Mike Johnson, who’s previously blamed school shootings on abortion, compared abortion to the Holocaust, and stressed the need for women to pop out “able-bodied workers” to fund social security. But don’t worry, there’s more: Mother Jones and watchdog groups have resurfaced a slate of atrocious comments from the far-right Republican leader on the specific issue of no-fault divorce—a policy that allows people to end a marriage without being required to prove wrongdoing by their partner, including adultery, abuse, or desertion.

The policy has particularly benefited women, as it allows abuse victims to exit, say, an abusive marriage without onerous barriers and burdens of proof, on top of allowing all people to escape legally binding situations with someone they don’t love. Maybe that’s why Johnson seems to take such vehement issue with it. In a resurfaced 2016 sermon at Christian Center Shreveport, Johnson appears to blame school shootings on divorce, as well as other things like abortion and “radical feminism.” No, really. His exact remarks:

“Do you remember in the late ‘60s when they invented things like no-fault divorce laws, we invented the sexual revolution, radical feminism, we invented legalized abortion in 1973, where the state sanctioned the killing of the unborn. We know that we’re living in a completely amoral society. It’s, people say, ‘How can a young person go into their school and open fire on their classmates?’ Because we taught a whole generation, couple generations now, that there is no right and wrong.”

In other remarks from the early 2000s, Johnson refers to no-fault divorce as “the no-fault scheme,” and criticized our culture that makes “any deviation” from this policy “seem like a radical move.”

Per Mother Jones’ reporting, Johnson is also linked with Louisiana Family Forum, a group espousing traditional family values that supported a 1997 state law to establish “covenant marriage.” The law offers newlyweds a religion-based contract rendering it much harder to get divorced. A spokesperson for Johnson did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Jezebel on where he stands on the issue of no-fault divorce today.

Scarily enough, Johnson’s hard line on divorce is in line with what we’re increasingly seeing from the right and Republican party. The Texas Republican Party includes in its 2022 party platform a proposal “to rescind unilateral no-fault divorce laws and support covenant marriage and to pass legislation extending the period of time in which a divorce may occur to six months after the date of filing for divorce.” Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) last year suggested people should stick it out in “unhappy” or “maybe even violent” marriages for their kids’ sake—as if abusive intimate partners aren’t a safety risk to children.

Additionally, Steven Crowder, one of the loudest right-wing voices on the internet, has similarly spent the last year railing against the institution of no-fault divorce—incidentally, as it turns out while going through a divorce himself as his wife’s family accuses him of being abusive toward her. “It’s no-fault divorce, which, by the way, means that in many of these states if a woman cheats on you, she leaves, she takes half. So it’s not no-fault, it’s the fault of the man. There need to be changes to marital laws, and I’m not even talking about same-sex marriage. … I’m talking about divorce laws,” Crowder said on a podcast in June 2022. Similar views have been espoused by the Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh and the conservative National Review.

These views, particularly from such influential right-wing talking heads, have always been alarming—that they’re now, apparently, held by our current House Speaker is especially concerning. As John Knefel, senior writer at Media Matters for America, put it in conversation with Jezebel last year, this stance might seem “outlandish now,” but “if the overturning of Roe [v. Wade] taught us anything, it’s to take conservatives at their word when they say they want to take our freedoms.”

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