Editor’s Note: A guest post from La. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-Bossier City)
Below are seven key facts to explain why it is completely logical and appropriate for our duly-elected Republican majority to select the new Speaker of the Louisiana House or Representatives instead of the governor.
1. The GOP position on the Speaker’s race is not about party or politics or personalities—it is about principle.
2. The relatively recent tradition of Louisiana governors choosing the leaders of each house of the Louisiana Legislature is not mentioned in our state constitution for a fundamental reason, and that is the essential doctrine of the separation of powers. Our system of checks and balances (for example, distinguishing the legislative from the executive branch of government) is critical to a proper functioning of any constitutional republic.
3. Under the clear language of the Louisiana Constitution, the members of the House of Representatives are given the authority to elect a Speaker from among themselves. LSA-Const. Art. 3, § 7(C). This provision makes no mention of any involvement by the executive branch. Why is that? Because the Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives is vastly powerful. He or she appoints every committee chairman and the membership of every House committee. That allows the Speaker to appoint committees which are not reflective of a majority of the body, and thereby stall or kill legislation in committee that would pass on the House floor. The argument today is purely about what is best for our state. WE SHOULD SIDE WITH OUR CONSTITUTION EVERY TIME.
4. It takes 53 votes to elect a Speaker. The people of our state have spoken clearly at the ballot box and have seen fit to hand the GOP 61 of the 105 House seats. In our system of representative government, it is logical and appropriate to allow that large, duly-elected majority to choose its own leadership independent of any outside pressure from the executive branch.
5. It is interesting that many of the same people who have openly criticized the work of the Legislature over the past eight years are now arguing that the same mechanisms and customs ought to be employed again. One way to fix our broken system is to change some of our unusual Louisiana traditions and reemphasize government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
6. The Republicans have only won a majority within the past eight years and there is certainly no “tradition” (or sound logic) that would allow a Democratic governor to name the Speaker when the House has a Republican majority.
7. The American people would never expect a Republican or Democrat majority in the Congress to allow a president from the opposing party to select its leaders. Why should we??