West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Episodes / * #14 "Take This Sabbath Day"

Air Force One ©2001-www.arttoday.com
Written by Aaron Sorkin,  Directed by Thomas Schlamme
Broadcast: February 9, 2000
Query: How many countries execute child offenders?
Query: What was that music that the cantor did in the synagogue and that was repeated at the end of this episode?

A federal prisoner is about to be executed. The Supreme Court refuses to intervene. The President is on Air Force One coming back from a trip to Stockholm. Leo has to tell him he holds the power to stop the execution. Before that, Leo asks Sam why the execution isn't being held immediately:
"We don't execute people between sundown Friday and sundown Sunday."
"Why?" Leo asks. Then, just before Sam answers his question, he says incredulously, "Don't tell me we don't execute people on the Sabbath!"

When Toby wonders how the defense team knew where he would be so they could call his rabbi, Sam admits he told them. Toby asks why.
"Right at that moment, it seemed like what I should do."

NBC Karl Malden © NBC
The entire staff tries to convince the President that he shouldn't allow the execution to go forward, but the President, though concerned on moral grounds, is convinced that since the American people believe in capital punishment, his job is to carry out their will so that the next president has an easier job:
"We cannot execute some people and not execute others depending on the mood of the Oval Office. It's cruel and unusual."

Later Sam mentions to Charlie that
"The United States is one of five countries that puts to death people under 18." The others are: Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

When Toby asks his rabbi why he gave a sermon on capital punishment, the rabbi describes the call he got from the defense team.
"He asked me if I had any influence over Toby Ziegler. I told him clearly he hadn't spent any time with Toby Ziegler."
Then he tells Toby to take this Sabbath day to consider his opinion. Toby objects, "I don't influence policy."
"Society has a right to protect itself," the rabbi continues. "But it doesn't have a right to be vengeful. It has a right to punish. But it doesn't have a right to kill."

A priest from Hanover later says the same thing:
"God is the only one who gets to kill people."

This episode is up for a Humanities Prize

Theme of Episode: Capital Punishment - Vengeance

For anyone interested in guest stars of this episode, let us recommend the West Wing Episode Guide.

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