Jews sure have come a long way since David Yulee Levy became the Senate’s first MOT in 1845. Sen. Joe Lieberman was a butterfly ballot away from becoming the nation’s first Jewish veep. Now U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., has been selected by his party to be the 2nd-ranking member of the House of Representatives.
Cantor won the election uncontested on Wednesday evening, paving the way for him to become one of the highest-ranking Jews in U.S. government history. When the 112th Congress convenes in January, Cantor will be the second-ranked member of the House after the likely speaker, Rep. John Boehner (R-Va.). That would make Cantor the highest-ranking Jew in congressional history.
It is difficult to assess the relative power of senior positions across the three branches of U.S. government—the legislature, the executive branch and the judiciary. There have been numerous Jewish associate justices of the Supreme Court, and a number of Jews have occupied senior Cabinet posts, including secretaries of state, defense and treasury.