West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Fifth Season Episodes * #507 "Separation of Powers"
Matthew Perry
Amy Stewart as Lisa, Matthew Perry as Joe Quincy, Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler
--- NBC Warner Bros. Photo

Written by: Paul Redford,  Directed: by: Alex Graves
Takes Place: It's November --- mentioned in the next episode which starts the moment this one ends.
Broadcast: November 12, 2003
Query: What is that poster in Toby's office?
Query: Would the Justice of the Supreme Court of New York be a likely strong contender for a place on the United States Supreme Court?

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has collapsed. Meanwhile, Angela has taken over Josh's usual position in trying to negotiate a budget. And Zoey is doing so well, she has agreed to a television interview. C.J. is worried about Zoey: Charlie was called from someone who works for the interviewer. He tells C.J.,
"He wanted to know about my statement to the Secret Service the night of Zoey's kidnapping."
"The Ecstasy? Did you talk to him about it?"
"Of course not. I took the guy's name very politely, and I hung up very politely."

Angela is having terrible trouble dealing with the Speaker of the House in the budget meetings. After she tells the senior staff the Speaker's demands, Bartlet mutters to Leo,
"Two-hundred-billion-dollar deficit, and Haffley wants tax cuts. Take away a few zeroes, and he'd pass for a mob accountant."

C.J. is so worried about Zoey's interview that she talks the President into letting her go up to New Hampshire to make sure Zoey is prepared. And Angela asks Josh for help,
"I need to get out a counter-offer by this afternoon. The guys at OMB say that you have all the current budget docs.... Be great if I could get it and borrow a body to help me slog through it.... OMB said somebody named Donna knows the docs inside out...."
"Donna Moss. Okay. Sure."

The President decides to allow Leo to look into the possibility of Chief Justice Ashland resigning --- delicately. Leo gives the assignment to Toby who has been pushing for it.
"It's not so simple," Toby tells him.
"That's why I'm giving it to you."
"We can't force him to resign."
Toby goes to find Joe Quincy, of the White House counsel's office.
"You used to clerk for the Chief Justice...."
"I can't do it Toby. I'm sorry.... You want me to do the approach about getting him to resign.... I can do the math. You have a limited amount of time to pick the next guy and get him confirmed before the midterms politicize everything.... The White House can't be seen as pressuring a Supreme Court Justice.... Separation of Powers."

Joe agrees to suggest that the Chief Justice talk to the President. And so a meeting is arranged. Ashland asks the President,
Matthew Perry
Amy Stewart as Lisa, Matthew Perry as Joe Quincy, Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler,
Milo O'Shea as Chief Justice Ashland
--- NBC Warner Bros. Photo
"Who would you get to replace me?"
"I'd hoped to consult with you."
"Holmes," says the Chief Justice. "...Oliver Wendell. Marshall. John or Thurgood, either one. I want Brandeis, Blackmun, Douglas. But you can't get them, can you? Because its all compromises, now. The ones who have no record of scholarship; no body of opinions, nothing you can hold them to. That's who they'll confirm. Raging mediocrities.... I have good days and bad. But on my worst days, I am better than the amped-up ambulance chasers you could get confirmed by this Senate. You can't do it, Jed. You're not strong enough. The Speaker's running the table and I can't take a chance."

Right afterwards Bartlet has to face the Speaker to agree to the Continuing Resolution the budget negotiations have led to. It is supposed to cover the next two months and the Speaker has insisted on a one percent reduction in everything except Defense and Homeland Security over the time of the Resolution. Bartlet doesn't like it but he is going to go through with it. But the Speaker tells the President,
"I know we talked about a one percent cut. It's going to have to be three...."
"We had a deal at one percent."
"But now my members have to go back to their districts for the holidays; explain why we kept the gravy train running with a rising deficit and an economy crying out for tax relief. It's an economic situation that calls for action, not status quo spending. Now, three percent may sound painful but it's only for two months. It'll show we're serious."
"What's next.... In two months. Five percent? 50?"
"...Not to get too technical but this government runs out of money at midnight and my guys have gone home. This is it."
"There is no altering this offer, Mr. President."
"And I said, 'no'."
"...You will be held responsible for shutting down the Federal Government."
"Then shut it down."

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