Contrary to conventional wisdom, many liberals privately mourn the departure of Eric Cantor from the ranks of the House GOP leadership. At a symposium on Wednesday sponsored by The Hill newspaper on “Voting in America,” several of the attendees told me that they and Majority Leader Cantor were within striking distance of a compromise to restore many of the provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that were struck down by the Supreme Court last year as unconstitutional. The Court ruled that certain provisions that singled out certain states and jurisdictions for special oversight based on 50-year-old data were obsolete and could no longer be justified. Liberal civil-rights groups were furious and vowed to pass a “restoration” bill restoring all of the Justice Department’s power over federal elections.
“It was a heavy lift for Cantor, but we were closer to getting him to be reasonable than with any other senior Republican in leadership,” one civil-rights attorney told me. “We found we could do business with him.”