The West Wing (1999–2006): Season 1, Episode 14 - Take This Sabbath Day - full transcript

A drug dealer's appeal of the federal death penalty is rejected by the Supreme Court, which upholds the death sentence with execution scheduled for the following Monday. One of the defense lawyers on the case is Sam's old high school bully, and he appeals directly to Sam to involve the president. During a weekend in which he was supposed to be in a yacht race, Sam opts to stay at the W.H. and try to convince his fellow staffers and ultimately Bartlet that the president should commute the sentence. Meanwhile Josh, after a night of heavy drinking at a bachelor party, meets congressional campaign manager Joey Lucas while is hung over. She assails him for having the DNC cut off funding for her candidate, but the decision was deliberate, as the W.H. likes the conservative nutjob currently holding the Calif. seat. Opinions on the death penalty are exchanged throughout the weekend, including those of Quaker Joey Lucas and Toby's rabbi, and Bartlet winds up calling both the Pope and his old parish priest from N.H. for counsel.

Assuming the court erred in allowing
the jury to consider factors...

...that were vague or duplicative
in violation of the 8th Amendment...

...such error was harmless
beyond a reasonable doubt.

A stay of execution
of the sentence of death...

...presented to the chief justice
and to the court, is denied.

The petition for a writ
of certiorari is denied.

The petitioner is remanded
to the federal facility in Indiana... be executed by lethal injection
Monday morning at 12:01 a.m.

- Who's our guy at the White House?
- It's over. We don't have a guy.

- Who can we call right now?
- The switchboard operator.

- Who's got the president's ear?
- Nobody.

- Sam Seaborn.
- You know Seaborn?

- I beat him up in high school.
- You're kidding me.

You can call him right now?
He'll take the call?

Let's find out.

- I'm out of here.
- You've gotta see Sam.

- I'll see Sam, then I'm out.
- You gonna behave tonight?

It's a bachelor party.
I can drink with the best of them.

- You can't drink with any of them.
- I'm in politics, I can.

- Your system's sensitive.
- Stop telling people that.

Two drinks
and you'll sleep all weekend.

It's the first time I've had a chance
to spend the weekend not working.

- Are there gonna be strippers?
- No. Men don't like that anymore.

- Men don't like naked women?
- We do.

Looking at them with
your friends makes you feel...

- Sleazy?
- Uncomfortable. Sam, what do you need?

- I need you to do me a favor.
- On O'Dwyer?

- People wanna know what's going on.
- Who?

- Campaign manager named Joey Lucas.
- What's he like?

- I didn't talk to him.
- What favor?

- I scheduled a meeting tomorrow.
- Aren't you going sailing?

- How are you gonna...?
- Ten minutes.

- On Saturday?
- You have plans?

- I planned on doing nothing.
- Ten minutes.

He's gonna be excited to meet you.
Joshua Lyman, deputy chief of staff.

- What do I tell him?
- Tell him the truth.

- I don't think so.
- What time?

- 10 a.m.
- You have to be here at 10 a.m.

- We have to.
- Why me?

- Because you work for me.
- I have things to do tomorrow.

- What things?
- Shopping.

- For what?
- Whatever.

When it's over, I'll buy you shoes.

- Really?
- I'm out of here.

- I'm bringing back the cup!
- Stay in the boat this time.

- Okay.
- Good luck.

I got foul-weather gear! See you!

- Bonnie, I'm done?
- You're done.

I'm gonna be unreachable
for the weekend.


I'm not taking my pager
or my cell phone.

You earned it.

Out on the ocean,
cut off from the White House.

- It'll be good for you.
- I'll take my pager and my cell phone.

No, I'm cutting the cord.
No cell phone or pager.

- Sam, you need to relax.
- Yeah.

- Have a good weekend.
- You too.

Sam Seaborn.

- Is he guilty?
- That's not the point.

Is he guilty?

Blackmun went on record. It was
a drug cartel, he killed two kingpins.

- Public service murder?
- These weren't schoolgirls.

- He supported the death penalty.
- He reversed.

He said, "I no longer
shall tinker with death.

I feel obligated to concede that the
death penalty experiment has failed. "

- Don't quote Harry Blackmun.
- Tell the president he can't run.

He's gotta consider my client.

I don't talk to the president that way.
People don't talk to me that way.

I got a guy 48 hours away from death.
You're gonna make it personal?

- How long you been with the PD's office?
- About two years.

I heard you were at Ross-Lipton.

- I was.
- What happened?

They gave me a partnership and
a corner office. What do you think?

The president's serious
about separation of powers.

The Constitution says he can grant
pardons for offenses against the U.S.

- The judicial branch has spoken, so...
- That's what he'll hide behind?

He's not hiding.
He's on Air Force One.

When does he land?

- 9 a.m.
- That's when you'll talk to him?

- I won't, but I'll ask Toby...
- What?

I'll pass it up to Toby Ziegler.
But I have to be honest with you...

Talk to him in the morning.

- Toby will be at temple first thing...
- What temple?

- Bobby...
- What temple?

- I don't know.
- Know where it is?

- I think it's on Delaware.
- Thank you.

- Leo?
- I thought you left.

- I came to get my bag.
- What's up?

- They denied the appeal.
- Simon Cruz?

- I thought they...
- Me too.

Our guy said they would send it
to the 6th Circuit.

- They denied the appeal, 5-3.
- It wasn't supposed to happen.

- We've gotta get Mendoza on the bench.
- If he was, they would've lost 5-4.

The execution is scheduled
for 12:01, Monday morning.

So, ball's in our court.

I'm not sure
the president wants the ball.

That makes two of us.

Have a good weekend.

- You're not gonna...?
- He lands at 9 a.m. tomorrow.

- I'll talk it through with him.
- I'll brief Toby.

- Right.
- I'll see you later.

- Sam.
- Yeah?

- Why Monday?
- What do you mean?

The court denied the appeal,
why not tonight?

We don't execute people between
sundown Friday and sundown Sunday.

- Why?
- Hard to believe...

- You're kidding me.
- No.

- We don't execute people on the Sabbath.
- No.

That's the most bizarre thing
I've heard.

You'll find that there's no part
of this discussion that isn't bizarre.

I'm gonna go.
I got a race in the morning.

- Hold on to a rope or something.
- Yeah.

Damn it.



- Hi.
- What are you doing?

- What?
- Did you spend the night here?

- No, a couple of hours.
- The party went till morning?

- Yep.
- Why didn't you go home?

- What?
- Why didn't you go home?

I couldn't find my keys.
Or remember where I lived.

I think there might
have been strippers there.

Oh, my God!
What happened to your clothes?

- I wrinkled my suit.
- Josh!

- You wanna speak very softly.
- How did you get like this?

- People were pouring champagne.
- And then wrestling in dirt?

I can't remember,
but it's not out of the question.

- You have a meeting.
- Yeah, I know. I'm not, you know....

- What was the meeting again?
- Joey Lucas about O'Dwyer.

- Josh, you can't wear those clothes.
- I'm fine.

- They're the only clothes I got.
- I'll find some other clothes.

- You'll listen from now on?
- I'm not listening now.

- I said, are you gonna...?
- Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!

- C.J.
- Don't start with me.

I was being entertaining
and instructive.

I'm no longer belted down
next to the passenger from hell.

- Welcome back.
- What're you doing here?

- How was the flight?
- Gruesome.

We got a history of the fjords,
then we got a quiz on the fjords.

You know how much I want
to drop-kick you into a fjord?

- You don't know how to have fun.
- It was quite a trip.

It's not over yet.

- Josh, here.
- What's that?

- Sam's foul-weather gear.
- Coffee?

It's strong. Drink it all.

It's from yesterday,
it might not be hot.

- What time's he coming?
- 40 minutes.

- I'm not wearing that.
- One-hour cleaners.

- He'll be here in 40 minutes.
- Zuzu'll do it in 30.

- Who's Zuzu?
- The guy from the dry cleaners.

- His name is Zuzu?
- Change your clothes.

I'll look like the Gorton's fisherman
in this thing.

With Passover on the horizon...

...millions of Jews will gather
around Seder tables.

We'll sing our songs
and ask our questions...

...about the stick that beat the dog
that bit the cat that ate the kid.

We'll sing to entertain our children
and to be reminded by the Haggadah...

...the simple truth.
That violence begets violence.

Vengeance is not Jewish.

- Sam Seaborn.
- What do you want?

I'm at temple right now.

By any chance, is your rabbi giving
a sermon on capital punishment?

No matter how deep our desire
to witness the suffering of enemies...

...we are commanded
to relocate our humanity.

Vengeance is not Jewish.
We are commanded to....

Yeah, he is.
How did you know that?

- I'll explain when you get here.
-Why am I coming?

- The appeal was denied.
- All right, I'm on my way.

Are you the jackass who has
the DNC choking up funding...

...for the O'Dwyer campaign
in the 46th?

- What in God's name is happening?
- I'm Joey Lucas.

- You're Joey Lucas?
- No, I'm Joey Lucas.

Help me, because I don't...

You idiot, I'm Joey Lucas!

- Okay. I'm Josh Lyman.
- I know who you are.

- You're Joey Lucas?
- What were you expecting?

- A man.
- I'm a woman.

You're O'Dwyer's campaign manager?

Yes, and I have three sources,
two at the DNC...

- What the hell are you wearing?
- Me?

- Yes.
- I spilled some things on my clothes.

Let's take a deep breath
while I try and remember... know, where I am right now.

- Are you drunk?
- I have a very delicate system.

I'm serious. I'm trying
to get a guy elected to Congress.

I wanna know why the White House
is screwing around with me.

- Excuse me.
- Thank God.

- What's going on?
- This is my assistant, Donna.

- Donna, Joey Lucas.
- Hi.

I'm just gonna go...
I'm gonna go change my clothes.

I'll be right back.

- Took you long enough.
- I got stuck.

- You know how dumb I looked?
- Joey Lucas is a woman?

- Yes.
- And she's deaf?

- Cool.
- Give me that.

- You need to see Sam.
- What's Sam doing here?

- The appeal was denied.
- What are you talking about?

All he said was, the appeal's denied.

Oh, man. Make sure
they're gonna be okay in there.

This might take a few minutes.

Are you saying my rabbi
wrote a sermon just for me?

- How'd he know what was going on?
- Public defender, Bobby Zane...

A public defender spoke to my rabbi?
How did he know where I go to temple?

I thought they'd send it
to the 6th Circuit.

I thought so too.

- Where's president?
- Home.

- We getting a briefing?
- Yes.

- When's the execution?
- Sunday.

- Monday, 12:01.
- Tomorrow.

- Lethal injection?
- Did you sleep in a dumpster?

- Possibly. Why aren't you sailing?
- I stayed.

Evidence of capital punishment
as a deterrent?


- What are the stats on executions?
- '63 was the last execution.

- Who commuted the sentence?
- Lincoln.

- Abraham?
- No, Burt Lincoln.

I'm surprised.

I don't wanna debate on the
death penalty. Let's get stuff ready.

- I'm gonna start working with C.J.
- I gotta get back too.

Joey Lucas is waiting
for me in my office.

- What's he like?
- He's got very nice legs.

- He's a woman?
- Yes, he is. He's also deaf.

And very pissed. I'll be right back.


There's room to give the president
judicial cover if he wants to commute.

This guy was convicted
of three murders by a Mexican court.

The trial judge let the prosecutor
introduce the evidence.

Mexican courts are ridiculous...

- How did he know I was at that temple?
- He didn't have great legal counsel.

- How did he know?
- I told him.

- You told him.
- Yeah.

What are you doing
giving out that inform...?

At that moment,
it seemed like what I should do.

- He's not gonna commute the sentence.
- We don't know what he's gonna do.

- It seemed like what you should do?
- Yeah.


So anyway, he was tried
and found guilty four years ago... the district court in Michigan.
The 6th Circuit turned down his appeal.

The Supreme Court gave him a stay,
heard the case, turned him down.

- We need Mendoza on the bench.
- Your problem's today.

- Why is it my problem?
- As opposed to who?

- Governor of Michigan.
- Why isn't it a state crime?

It was prosecuted
under the Drug Kingpin Law...

...that was modified
into the Omnibus Crime Bill.

Allows the death penalty
in drug-related homicides.

The deputy AG's office
is putting together a briefing.

- How long?
- About an hour.

- Okay, I'll wait for that.
- Yeah.

- I'm gonna wanna see our people.
- Everyone's here or on the way.

- I'm not gonna be good at this.
- You'll be joining a big club.

Yeah. Charlie!

- I'll call you.
- Thank you.

Thank you.

Yes, sir?

There's a priest in Hanover,
Thomas Cavanaugh.

I'd like to arrange to have him
come down and see me this weekend.

It's important the White House
not pay for this.

And I'm going to....

- I'm sorry, sir?
- No, no. Never mind.

Yeah. I'm gonna wanna talk
to the pope.

I'm gonna ask you a question.

It's okay to tell me I've crossed
the line and I should shut my mouth.

What happened to the guy
who shot your mother?

They haven't found him yet.

If they did, would you
want to see him executed?

Killing a police officer is a capital
crime. You must have thought about it.


I wouldn't want to see him executed,
Mr. President.

I'd want to do it myself.


I'll get started
on these arrangements.

- Thank you, Charlie.
- Thank you, Mr. President.

I'm running a campaign
against a conservative Republican.

He opposed gay rights, abortion
and gun control.

He supports amending the Bill of Rights
to prohibit burning an American flag.

We have a chance to beat him. Why
is the DNC cutting down my funding?

- Because you have a chance.
- Excuse me?

- Your campaign is doing way too well.
- Are you deranged?

He's a preposterous figure.
We wanna keep him where he is.

As a poster boy for the radical right?

When he comes out with a
declaration about "brown people"...

...the DNC makes it a mail campaign.
He's good for $2 million.

- I wanna speak to the president.
- No problem.

I'm serious.

He doesn't take meetings
on this level. I don't either.

What level is that?

You should be afraid.
I can create problems for you.

- I'm not hearing party loyalty.
- Maybe if your head wasn't so far...

- I wanna speak to the president!
- Lunatic, trust me when I say...

...that there is no way
you're gonna see him!

Hey, Josh.

- Hello, Mr. President.
- How are you?

- I'd like this day to be over.
- Who are your friends?

- This is Joey Lucas.
- How are you?

- Nice to meet you.
- Thanks.

- This is Kenny Somebody.
- Thurman.

- We were just finishing up.
- I was wandering the halls, thinking.

I'll show these people off
and I can wander with you.

- You ever seen the White House?
- No, sir.

- Let's take a walk. Come on.
- Yes, sir.

I need biographical information
on Simon Cruz.

- C-R-U-Z?
- Don't know.

- What information?
- We need to spell his name right.

- Do you read lips?
- Yes, sir.

- Joey?
- Yes, sir.

- Is that short for Joanne?
- Josephine.

- Your last name is Lucas?
- Yes, sir.

- Is that Polish?
- Dutch.

- Protestant?
- Quaker.

Well, this is the Oval Office.

Come in, please. Sit down.

- Where did you go to school?
- UCLA and Stanford.

There's a guy named Cruz on death row.
He's gonna be executed in 36 hours.

What do you think I should do?

- Stay the execution.
- Why?

The state shouldn't kill.

He was found guilty of
a double murder and drug trafficking.

Send him to prison.

- You're against capital punishment?
- Yes, sir.

- Did you study St. Augustine?
- Yes, sir.

- Thomas Aquinas?
- Yes, sir.

Two smart guys, right? They believed
in the Old Testament, which said:

"Who sheddeth a man's blood,
by man shall his blood be shed. "

Immanuel Kant said that the death
penalty is a categorical imperative.

But those writings are
from other centuries.

A Harris poll says 71 % of American
people support capital punishment.

- That's a political problem.
- I'm a politician.

Thank you, Mr. President.
We should....

Excuse me?

I'm here because I'm running the
campaign for O'Dwyer who's running...

For the California 46th.

O'Dwyer's an empty shirt.

I don't like guys who run
because they think it's a good gig.

Find a live one
and I'll get interested.

The devil you know beats the devil
you don't. I like the devil I got.

Josh will take care of you from here.

We're going. Nice meeting you.

- Nice to meet you.
- That was me saying that.

You didn't have
a good time meeting me?

You know what?
I actually know that sign.

Don't know that one,
but I can probably guess.

I just wanna go through
this piece a few times.

- Rabbi Glassman.
- Toby.

I didn't hear you,
which is fairly unusual.

You missed the end
of my sermon yesterday.

I had to go back to my office
and I think you know why.

Bobby Zane called Friday,
told me what was happening.

He asked if I had any influence
on Toby Ziegler.

I told him, clearly he hadn't
spent any time with Toby Ziegler.

She's practicing a piece
for a funeral service in the morning.

- That's funny.
- What?

- I never imagined them practicing.
- Day and night.

You and Zane, what were you expecting
when you gave your sermon yesterday?

There was hope you might take the
Sabbath day to consider your position.

As communications director,
I'm a counselor to the president.

But my role in these situations
is generally....

I create a public face for what...
I don't influence policy.

Of course you do.

You want me to say,
"Vengeance is not Jewish?"

- Why not?
- Well, neither is the president.

The Catholic church's position on life
is no abortion, no death penalty.

I spent the day...

Hoping the president
wouldn't call the pope.

Damn right.

If he commuted the sentence after that,
the fears of every non-Catholic...

...would be realized.

Congratulations, you may now join
the White House communications staff.

You look like you're having a long
weekend. I appreciate you stopping by.

Yeah. Well, you're welcome.

The Torah doesn't prohibit
capital punishment.

- No.
- It says, an eye for an eye.

You know what it also says?

It says a rebellious child
can be stoned to death.

It says homosexuality is
an abomination, punishable by death.

It says men can be polygamous
and slavery is acceptable.

For all I know, that thinking
reflected the best wisdom of its time.

But it's just plain wrong
by any modern standard.

Society has a right to protect itself,
but not to be vengeful.

It has a right to punish,
but it doesn't have a right to kill.

You know what I think?
You knew I was coming back here.

And I think you put her there
on purpose.

She's our communications director.

Yeah. Anyway....

- Shalom, Toby.
- Shalom, Rabbi.

- C.J.? You have everything you need?
- Yeah.

I mean, for a briefing?

I have this biographical information.
His mother's name is Sophia. Sophia.

- You're gonna need more than that.
- I have more.


You know, I have no position
on capital punishment.

Been trying to get
worked up about it...

...but the truth is,
I don't care if Cruz dies.

If it brings comfort to the families
of the victims, why not?

That's valid.

So here's my job tonight,
if this thing happens.

- At 12:01, he'll get the injection...
- C.J.

No, I'm saying,
I'm reading it right here.

The first sign of death
will be his hands twitching.

After 60 seconds,
he'll strain against the straps.

His head will snap back violently.
90 seconds, he'll be in convulsions.

At 12:04, he'll be pronounced dead.

He killed two people. Probably more.

- Sorry I don't get worked up over it.
- Me neither.

Except at 12:04...

...because that's when the warden
calls me. That's my job tonight.

I have to tell the president he's dead
and we're the ones who killed him.

So, I just wish I didn't know
his mother's name was Sophia... all I'm saying.


Mr. President? Toby's here.


- Good afternoon. Welcome back.
- Thank you.

- How was your trip?
- Fine. What do you need?

I had a strange experience
this weekend.

A PD on the Cruz case, trying the
things you do when you're desperate...

...he went and spoke to my rabbi.

- Jewish law doesn't prohibit...
- I know.

The commandment does not say,
"Thou shalt not kill. "

I know. But the fact is that
even 2000 years ago...

...the rabbis of the Talmud
couldn't stomach it.

They weren't about
to rewrite the Torah...

...but they came up
with legal restrictions...

...which make our criminal
justice system look....

They made it impossible
for the state... punish someone by killing them.

- We make it very hard to kill anybody.
- Should be impossible.

- But it's not.
- But it should be.

Hey, what's going on?

Toby went to Shul.

Yeah. Thank you, Mr. President.

Japan opened huge.
Up two cents against the yen.

I commute him for no reason other than
I don't like the death penalty...

...and the next president sees it
differently, I've laid track to all...

The next guy will have
8th Amendment problems.

If that's the only thing....

We cannot execute some people
and not others depending on the mood.

It's cruel and unusual.

If that's the only thing stopping you,
then I'll say this for the first time:

Let that be the next guy's problem.

- Sir, Sam Seaborn.
- Give me a minute, please, Nancy.

- I'll take care of it.
- Thank you.

The U.S. is 1 of 5 countries
that puts to death...

...people under 18
when they commit a crime.

- Nigeria.
- Pakistan.

- Saudi Arabia and Iran?
- So that's a list we want to be on.

- I put my notes together...
- Walk with me.

- I was...
- You're not gonna see him.

- Leo.
- He's done.

- We have six hours.
- He's done.

- It's not an impossible sell.
- I've lived longer than you.

He's done and this was bungled.
We were totally unprepared.

This was supposed to go back
to the 6th Circuit.

What are you talking about?
The court sat!

- What would you have done different?
- I'd have....

Keep the president out of the country
another two days?


Leo, there are times
when we are absolutely nowhere.

- Thank you for meeting me.
- Our flight's in one hour.

Aren't you impressed
I tracked you down?

- Was it hard?
- Very.

I had to have my assistant call
your office in California.

When I say it out loud,
it doesn't sound that impressive.

Did you make me meet you here
for jokes?

I came at the request
of the president.

He felt that he was rude to you
in the Oval Office yesterday.

He apologizes, and while the tightening
of funding was political strategy...

...he feels that your candidate
is a schmuck...

...who gives liberalism a bad name.

Yeah, I think so too.

I know you do.
Why are you working for him?

I'm a professional
political operative.

There's not exactly a seller's market
for deaf campaign managers.

I'd imagine.

He wanted me to say
he meant what he said.

Come up with a live one
and we'll get interested.

- Did he have any suggestions?
- He did.



You guys have a nice flight back.

Mr. President?

- Excuse me, Mr. President?
- Yeah?

- Father Cavanaugh.
- Thank you.

- Tom.
- Mr. President.

Thank you, Charlie.

- Thanks for coming.
- It was no trouble.

- Sorry I couldn't get here until now.
- Seems like a wasted trip.

- I can see the Oval Office.
- This is it.

- Show me around the room.
- You're looking at the room.

- Where's the red phone?
- We don't use a red phone anymore.

- How do you talk to the Kremlin?
- I tell Mrs. Landingham.

- Would you like a drink?
- No. No, thanks.

I don't know how to address you.
Would you prefer Jed or Mr. President?

- I prefer Mr. President.
- Fine.

- Understand why?
- Do I need to?

- It's not ego.
- I didn't think so.

The decisions I make in this room,
do I send troops into harm's way?

Which fatal disease gets
the most research money?

It's helpful not to think of yourself
as the man, but as the office.

Then Mr. President it is.

I had people on my staff
search for a reason...

...the public would find palatable
to commute the sentence.

A technicality.
Any evidence of racism.

So your staff spent the weekend
looking for a way out?

Like the kid in right field who doesn't
want the ball to get hit to him?

I'm the leader of a democracy. 71 % of
the people support capital punishment.

The people have spoken,
the courts have spoken.

Did you call the pope?
And how do you do that?

For crying out loud,
I say, "Somebody get me the pope. "

I'm sorry, Mr. President,
but I was thinking....

You're just this kid from my parish,
and now you're calling the pope.

Anyway, I looked for a way out.
I really did.

"Vengeance is mine," sayeth the Lord.
You know what that means?

God is the only one
who gets to kill people.

- I know.
- That was your way out.

I know.

- Did you pray?
- I did, Tom.

- Hard to believe, I prayed for wisdom.
- And none came?

It never has. And I'm a little
pissed off about that.

I'm not kidding.

You know....

You remind me of the man
that lived by the river.

He heard a radio report that
the river was gonna flood the town.

And that residents
should evacuate their homes.

But the man said, "I'm religious, I
pray. God loves me, God will save me. "

The waters rose up.
A guy in a rowboat came and shouted:

"Hey, you! The town is flooding!
Let me take you to safety! "

The man shouted back, "I'm religious.
I pray. God loves me. He'll save me. "

A helicopter was hovering overhead
and a guy with a megaphone shouted:

"Hey, you! You down there!
The town is flooding!

I'll take you to safety! "

The man shouted that he was religious,
that he prayed...

...and that God would
take him to safety.

Well, the man drowned.

Standing at the gates of St. Peter,
he demanded an audience with God.

"Lord," he said,
"I'm a religious man, I pray.

I thought you loved me.
Why did this happen?"

God said, "I sent you a radio report,
a helicopter and a guy in a rowboat.

What the hell are you doing here?"

He sent you a priest, a rabbi...

...and a Quaker, Mr. President.

Not to mention his son, Jesus Christ.
What do you want from him?

Excuse me.

Jed, would you like me
to hear your confession?

Yes, please.

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.