In 2018, Speaker Mike Johnson, a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, and the chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party, proposed plans to create a Christian law school at Louisiana College in Alexandria, Louisiana. The proposed law school, which was to be called the Welch College of Law in honor of Johnson’s father, would have emphasized Christian values and would have only accepted students who agreed to abide by a faith-based code of conduct.
The plans for the law school quickly came under fire from civil rights groups, legal organizations, and the American Bar Association. These groups argued that the school’s admission criteria and curriculum would be discriminatory, and that the school could not be considered legitimate without ABA accreditation.
Despite the controversy surrounding the law school, Johnson refused to back down and vowed to get the school approved. He even went on radio shows and appeared at rallies to proclaim that the school was necessary because of a “hostile environment” towards Christians in law schools.
In January 2019, the Louisiana Supreme Court unanimously struck down the law school’s accreditation plan, citing concerns about its religious discrimination. The court ruled that the ABA’s standards must be followed and that the proposed school did not meet them. Johnson was unwilling to compromise and refused to accept the ruling.
The controversy surrounding the Christian law school has tarnished Speaker Johnson’s political reputation and caused serious damage to the Louisiana Republican Party. Despite his continued support for the school, Johnson has been forced to quietly drop his plans for the school and has acknowledged that the ABA’s standards must be followed.