The West Wing (1999–2006): Season 1, Episode 9 - The Short List - full transcript

When a Supreme Court justice retires, President Bartlet has a golden opportunity to impact the court's composition by nominating a favorite judge but when further study reveals the ...


- I can't do this anymore.
- This is the most important thing.

- It's not more than your marriage.
- It is more important now.

- What are you wearing tonight?
- What am I wearing?

- Your paper wants to know?
- That's for me.

- When was the last time you went?
- To AA?

- What meeting could I go to?
- Mine.

Something I can help you with,
Mr. McGarry?

I'm here for the card game.




Are you prepared at this point...?

Thank you. Thank you, sir.

If you sit by the phone... can expect a call
from the president.

Thank you again.

- It's done.
- We did it!

It's done!

C.J. was on the phone
with her fingers crossed.

- You did one phone call.
- It was a series which I masterminded.

While I'm not selfish about credit,
it is done and I did it!

Call Toby, Sam, Leo, the president.

Tell them I'm on my way over.
Nothing to the press.

- Claudia Jean?
- Yeah?

- We did it.
- Yeah!

Don't you wanna know
about the banging?

- Banging?
- They've been at it all morning.

- What are you talking about?
- A loud banging above your office.

- I didn't notice.
- How could you not?

I've been on the phone to fill
a seat on the Supreme Court.

It was pretty loud.

I'm talking about
the U.S. Supreme Court.

- Who the man?
- We the man!

- This is just gross.
- Wait here for me.

- Morning, Mrs. Landingham.
- Good morning.

- Yes, Mrs. Landingham.
- Is it done?

That depends on your answer
to this question:

- Who the man?
- Excuse me, Josh?

- Who the man?
- You the man.

- We the men!
We the men!

- He's waiting for you.
Thank you.

- I heard we may have a... I can call?
- Yes, sir!

He's waiting for you, sir. It's done.

- You got a Supreme Court nominee.
- Which one of you is the man?

We'd like to think of ourselves
as "the men. "

Let's make the phone call!

- Congratulations, sir.
- Well done, sir.

Thank you. You too.

- You guys rock.
- We really do.

Bring in the chairman, a member from
Judiciary, leadership from both sides...

- Where is C.J.?
- Right here. Sorry.

You should wear a bell.
What do we wanna do?

C.J., tell the press the president
introduces his nominee Thursday.

- Could we do it on Friday?
- People watch TV on Thursday.

- We can do this in 4 days?
You sure?

You run the show.
Put the ball in the hole.

- It's done.
- No, it's not. So get it done.

- Get me everything.
- We vetted him two months.

We'll vet him four more days.

I wanna know every girlfriend
he stood up in 1953.

This show will be better
than the queen's coronation.

Sam, you'll write Harrison's remarks.

- He's not gonna like that.
- He'll like it fine.

If the name of this nominee
is leaked before I want...

...I'll blame you.
You'll find that unpleasant.

Toby, you're hot
when you're like this.

I am gonna put Harrison on the Court!
I swear to God!

- We meet again, three hours.
C.J., talk to me.

- Did you see his face?
- We're home.

- I'll see you later.
- It's a maintenance crew.

- The banging.
- Working upstairs.

- Peyton Cabot Harrison III.
- Yes.

He sounds like he should be
a Supreme Court Justice.

- It's a good name.
- Phillips Exeter, Rhodes scholar...

... Harvard Law Review editor.

He was dean of Harvard Law School.

His father was Eisenhower's
attorney general.

Peyton Cabot Harrison III.
Jewish fellow?

You're not gonna ruin this.

- I'm sharing this moment.
- This is big.

- You know what we'll have?
- A waspy old man?

A smooth confirmation process.

- It's gonna sail.
- I hope so.

- A slip twixt the tongue and wrist...
- It's gonna sail.

- Don't get your hopes up.
- Why?

When it doesn't work out,
you end up drunk in my apartment.

- Smooth sailing.
- Cautious optimism.

- Nothing bad will happen.
- Cautious optimism.

There is no reason...



You're too young to retire, Joseph.

You're an excellent liar,
Mr. President.

Yes, sir.

- You're gonna go with Harrison?
- He's on the short list.


With how many other names?

We'll make our announcement
on Thursday.

- You've decided on Harrison.
- I haven't made a decision yet.

You made the call.

- Did you consider Mendoza?
- He was on the short list.

He was on the short list so you could
show you had a Hispanic on it.

- That's not true.
- You ran great guns in the campaign.

It was an insurgency,
boy, a sight to see.

Then you drove to the middle
of the road...

...the moment after you took the oath.
The middle of the road.

Nothing but a long line,
painted yellow.

Excuse me, sir...

I wanted to retire five years ago,
but I waited for a Democrat.

I wanted a Democrat.

And instead, I got you.

- Hey. How you doing?
- Doing fine, Danny.

Is it Harrison?

Why do you ask me questions
you know I'm not gonna answer?

- Good conversation starter.
- I can't date you.

Think Harrison's gonna be a good
Justice? I tried to trick you.

Didn't work.
You won't go on a date?

- Right.
- Okay.

- We should get out there.
- Not yet.

I am running...

I've served on this bench
for 38 years.

I took my seat
the year you began college.

I believe I've earned
the right to say a word.

- You've said quite a few words.
- Not enough.

Let's go.

Take the next few days
with your staff...

...and give Mendoza
the consideration he deserves.

When the next seat opens...

When it does,
you'll be writing your memoirs.

- In three years, I hope...
- You're gonna get beat in three years.

That's pessimistic.

The American voters like guts,
and Republicans have got them.

And in three years,
one of them is gonna beat you.

I imagine the view...

...from your unscrutinized place in
history must be different from mine.

But I'd remind you, I have
the following things to negotiate:

An opposition Congress, special
interests and a bitchy media.

- So did Harry Truman.
- I'm not Harry Truman.

Mr. Bartlet, you needn't
point out that fact.

It's Dr. Bartlet, Your Honor.

Now, let's go start your retirement.

- Want my gloves?
- No, thanks.

- You look pretty cold.
- I'm fine.

- What are they talking about?
- They're old friends.

- They can't stand each other.
- It's a courtesy call.

- What do you want?
- Dinner.

- Think he's pissed about Harrison?
- Danny!

- I did it again!
- Yes.

- You outfoxed me.
- You're killing me.

Here we go.

- That was inches from my head.
- It was not.

It was inches. A bit that way, bam!

- Head wound.
- You're fine.

- Yeah, there but for the grace of God.
- Yes.

If big chunks are gonna
fall down on anyone....

I don't know.

- What?
- It should be you.

I knew you'd say that.

From now on, I want you
to test my office.

- Staff in 10 minutes.
- See this? Inches from my head.

Lillienfield's holding
a press conference?

- Who cares?
- Why is he holding a press conference?

- Is he unhappy?
- He's always unhappy.

- Donna, where's my East Asia memo?

It starts in two minutes.
Lillienfield's conference!

- I'll just get it myself!
Keep your pants on.

- We don't need any surprises today.
- We're not gonna have any.

- I don't wanna get upstaged.
- You're not gonna get upstaged.

- Here.
- Thank you.

You're welcome.

You should be nice to me.
I could be dead.

I don't have that kind of luck.

Play up that, as a lifelong Democrat,
he clerked for a Republican.

Play down that he's never written
a judicial opinion on abortion.

- I'm already there.
- Well, thank you.

What's this?

Lillienfield's talking
about something.

I couldn't be less interested.

- I'll be in my office.
- Okay.

Gone are the days of the best.

Stained are the legacies
of the great White House staffers.

Names like Schlesinger,
Sorensen, Rumsfeld, and Persons...

... have been replaced
by Ivy League liberals...

... and Hollywood darlings.

One in three of who, one in three...

... use drugs on a regular basis.

And so there's
no confusion about my meaning...

... I'm not talking about aspirin.

My staff will pass out
the most recent figures.

Get her.

- C.J.
- Tell him I'm watching.

Who exactly is it that's helping
lead our country?

Who has the ear of the president,
advising the president?

He said one in three
White House staffers were on drugs?

- Yes.
- Where does he get these stats?

Out of the clear blue sky.

- Bring me a tape on this.
- We are.

- This isn't happening to me.
- Stay cool.

Is it possible for Peter Lillienfield
to be a bigger jackass?

Do you think he could if he tried?

- At some point he'd hit the ceiling.
- Maybe not.

- What's up?
- Josh.

I would like to say to
the 1.6 of you who are stoned...

...that it's time to share.

This isn't funny.

If you can't laugh,
you're not having enough fun.

He's a featherweight, a hairdo.

I think he could be a slightly
bigger gasbag.

- If he reached for the stars.
- Morning.

- You never saw this coming?
- Toby.

Leo, forgive me,
but nobody saw this coming?!

I can't believe my psychic didn't
tell me! I'll get my money back.

- Short-term, long-term?
- Nothing.

I can't pretend we didn't see it.

He's a liar.
Categorically deny it and move on.

- She can't.
- Why not?

More than 1300 people
work for the White House.

I deny anyone uses drugs and three
guys in the photo lab blew a joint...

...which is not out of the realm
of possibility...

- You denied it. Now there are three.
- I deny there are any more than three.

Then the White House beverage
assistant confesses to being a junkie.

And she's selling her story.

Are we done
with Masterpiece Theater?

We're looking into it.
That's what we're saying right now.

I don't care if we say that, but
we're not actually doing it, are we?

- Yes.
- This is a joke, right?

- Leo.
- Yeah.

- Toby.
- Yeah.

Go do your briefing. The president
saw Crouch this morning.

We've got some exciting names
on the short list.

This business with Lillienfield....

- I haven't seen it yet.
- Is the president aware?

- We like to measure what credibility...
- Good.

- If the alternative is waiting...
- We don't postpone.

- End this.
- How?

- You know.
- I don't.

- What I'm saying...
- Go back to work.

- No. I want to hear what...
- Go back to work.

Lillienfield is on our stage,
and he's not gonna get off.

- No taking drug tests.
- Why?

- Because we're not!
- Let's end this.

Shut up. Go. Sam, go back
to doing what you're doing.

- They delivered Harrison's papers.
- Start reading.

What do we know?
What do they know?

No, wait. I'm not gonna be
the internal affairs cop here.

- You wanna know, ask them yourself.
- This isn't the time.

But there is a principle here...

We've done this a year.
All we've gotten is older.

Our job approval's only 48 percent.

I'm tired of being captain for
the gang that couldn't shoot!

What do they know?
Start with me if you want.

Hello. This is Sam Seaborn.

What's your name?

I'm not a cop. What's your name?

Where are you right now?

I'm the only one in my office,
but as soon...

You know what? Hang on. I'm on my way.

A quick confirmation's good.

Ritter says we'll get
90 votes in the Senate.

That's a blowout!
Just what the doctor ordered!

- Morning, Mrs. Landingham.
- Good morning.

- When is Harrison getting in?
- Tonight.

- Charlie.
- Good morning.

Peyton Cabot Harrison.
Find out what cigars he likes...

...his wife's favorite perfume,
and send them to their hotel.

Back channel?

- They'll stake hotels.
- Back channels.

- What is going on with Lillienfield?
- You stay out of it.

Anything else?

- We're gonna get this done?
- Yes, sir.

- Mr. President.
- On my way.

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

- Leo?
- Yes, sir?

We looked at everybody, right?
We looked at Mendoza?

We looked at him.
We fixed on Harrison.

You're right. See you later.

Sorry to keep you waiting. Let's go.


Hang on a second.

Morning. Keep your seats.

Good morning, Mr. President.

- Morning.
- Morning.

Put together some information
on Mendoza.

Sir, it's natural
to have second thoughts...

I don't want it to be,
"We had a Hispanic on the list. "

- What are you looking for?
- Why not him?

- Because Harrison said yes.
- Let's do better than that.

What's with this drug thing?

- You don't want a piece of that.
- I trust you. Thanks.

- Good morning.
- Morning, Sam.

He wants me to look at Mendoza.

I got a phone call from a guy
with information. I read it.

- It's not good.
- Drugs?

- No.
- What is it?

- It's Harrison.
- Close the door.

Every member of Law Review
has to prepare an unsigned note.

I know what it is.

It's 40 pages, well-researched,
revised, then published.

- Without the names.
- It's a scholarly work.

How do we know...? I'm supposed
to trust the guy on the phone?

I spent three months reading
everything Harrison's written.

He is the author of the unsigned note.



I'm gonna need the next five minutes
the president's got.

- How does Lillienfield get info?
- He's on the Oversight Committee.

These people decide if we get
heat and electricity.

- They have background information?
- Yes.

Don't feel uncomfortable
about interviewing me.

I talked to you, I hired you.

You know anybody who uses drugs?
Wanna tell me who?

- No.
- Consider yourself interviewed.

- I've seen your records.
- I know.

"No parking" means "no parking. "

- Sometimes I can't find a space.
- Go to work.

- Everyone takes a drug test.
- Why do you think everyone can pass?

- Those who can't will quietly resign.
- Okay. Problem solved.

What is wrong with demonstrating that
the White House is drug-free?

I think people would be
comfortable knowing...

...that they won't be forced to give
evidence against themselves.

Do not paint your position as anything
but preservation of a spotlight.

This gets bungled, we won't have
to struggle to find the spotlight.

- What's really going on here?
- I don't know.

- Me neither.
- That makes me nervous.

What do I do?

It's time to talk to
whoever it is you talk to.


Is there reason to believe White House
staffers use illegal drugs?

For those who didn't understand,
we are looking into this.

- A blunt question.
- These haven't been blunt yet?

- Do you use drugs?
- No. You're forgiven.

It's been 24 hours since
Lillienfield made his accusations...

We've got over 1300 people.
That's a lot of information.

We aren't loaded with free time.
No one here has been subpoenaed.

Lillienfield offers nothing
to support his claim.

We don't feel a need
to do this in a hurry.

That's all.

Set fire to the room. Do it now.

- How you doing?
- What do you want?

- Bit of a blunder.
- It was fine.

You challenged Lillienfield
for evidence.

I left my notebook.

Did you wanna be the first
to say "subpoena"?

It's the only word
anyone will read.

- I don't need your tips.
- That's not why I'm here.

- Why are you here?
- The Knicks play tomorrow...

- I don't have time!
- Neither do I.

We could watch it in your office
while I explain it to you.

Thank you anyway.

I'll explain in a way
a girl would appreciate.

Danny. You got a minute?

Walk me to my car.

Information I get, I have to print.

- Do you have information?
- No.

- Would you tell me?
- What kind?

You know what kind.

Why should I hand over
any information I get?

- You're right.
- I know.

- Sorry.
- It's not my job to help you out.

I know that.

Lillienfield's a jackass
but not stupid.

- If he's talking, he's got something.
- What?

It's small potatoes,
enough to get the rock rolling.

- What's he trying?
- I don't know.

- The nomination?
- Harrison's gonna sail by.

No one said it's Harrison.

My point is, he's not gonna
waste it on a done deal.

He's after something better.

- Okay. Thanks.
- Josh.

This is one of those times.
Don't screw this up.

- C.J. likes goldfish.
- What?

She likes goldfish.
Can't get enough of them.


Here's an interesting statement,
"While enjoying my privacy...

...I admit that government
has a right to invade privacy...

...unless prohibited by a specific
constitutional provision. "

It's an argument that privacy isn't a
right guaranteed by the constitution.

Why hasn't this been brought up?

We spent two months,
vetting our nominee...

...and it never came up?

It was never an issue
in a ruling he handed down.

We're not sure he's the author.

If he is, we can't hold him responsible
for something he wrote when he was 26.

Not if we've put him on the bench,
where this issue is gonna come up!

Harrison gets in when?

- Later tonight.
- I want him in the morning.

When was the last time you slept?
I don't care. Get ready for this.

- Yes, sir.
- Thank you.

Thank you, sir.

17 billion won't fly.

They're gonna say
it's too much at 13.5.

Excuse me. Give us the room.

I want to meet Mendoza.

Yes, sir.

Does he know why he's coming?

He's interviewing for a job on the
Commission for Hispanic Opportunity.

- Is there such a thing?
- It's the best I could do, Toby.

I made a letterhead.

- It must've taxed your creativity.
- Toby!

Judge Harrison, are you the
author of this unsigned note?

Yes, sir.

At 26, I wrote a paper supporting the
deregulation of Far East trade barriers.

Nearly got thrown out
of the London School of Economics.

I was young and stupid.

Yes, sir.

I'll bring Toby and Sam
in here and talk about this.

- That's fine, sir.
- Okay. Charlie, please.

- Toby. You got a minute?
- Yeah?

They're about to call me in.

Privacy? He doesn't
acknowledge the protection?

- When were you gonna tell me?
- I don't report to you.

He wrote it 25 years ago.

- He hasn't changed.
- We don't know that.

You don't care whether he has or not.

You're painting a picture
for the president.

- He can paint his own picture.
- But he listens to you!

When did we get the idea
that Harrison was our guy?

We used to talk.
It was never Harrison.


- Yeah?
- They're ready for you.

Leo, Josh was wondering
if you had a moment.


- Hi, Leo.
- Hey.

You're the guy with the worst
job in the building this week.

I was interrogating this intern from
the Legislative Liaison's office.

She broke down crying telling me
she made a bong out of an eggplant.

- You can do that?
- I used to use a potato.

You've always been industrious.

Lillienfield's not after that kid...

...and he's not after
the senior staff.


Leo, you know that
the worst-kept secret in Washington... that you're
a recovering alcoholic, right?

I had a hunch.

Leo, you're Boston Irish-Catholic.

Back there and back then,
a drinking problem wasn't a problem.

This isn't what he's after.

Were you maybe into something
that wasn't so acceptable?


Were you in treatment?

Sierra Tucson, six years ago.

The records they keep
are confidential.

He's got them.

You're Leo McGarry.

You're not going to be taken down
by this small fraction of a man.

I won't permit it.

Judges are bound to interpret
the Constitution...

...within the strict parameters
of the text.

The Constitution doesn't provide
for a right of privacy.

The Third Amendment says soldiers
can't be quartered in private homes.

Do you deny the right
to privacy lives in that passage?

No, but the fact that the Framers...

...enumerated those protections
is reason to believe...

...they didn't intend to make
privacy a de facto right.

After the revolution, they had
no question of their freedoms.

The Bill of Rights was meant
to codify the rights.

- I do this for a living.
- So do I, Your Honor.

Peyton, do I have the right to put
on an ugly plaid jacket...

- ...and walk down Main Street?
- Yes.

- And where is that right guaranteed?
- First Amendment.

What about the use
of cream in my coffee?

There can be no free speech argument
made there.


You'd have no objection to New
Hampshire banning the use of cream.

I would have strong objection,
Mr. President.

But I'd have no constitutional basis
to strike down the law... the Supreme Court.

As I lose the votes
of coffee drinkers everywhere.

- Hey.
- Hey.

- What you doing?
- You were right.

The word "subpoena" appears
in every lead.

- I know.
- Not yours.

Just because I couldn't spell it.

- What are you holding?
- A goldfish.

- Why?
- It's for you.

- Really?
- Josh said you like goldfish.

The crackers, Danny.
The cheese things you have at a party.

Oh. Well.

I'm not sure I was supposed
to know that.

- The crackers.
- Fine. Now I got a goldfish.

- You'll kill it.
- Think I can't take care of a fish?

- I do not.
- Name's Gail, by the way.

- The fish? You named it Gail?
- No. The guy in the store.

Come here.

Thanks for the fish.

Keep your head in the game.

In 1787, there were delegates
who were opposed to the Bill of Rights.

This is what a member of the Georgia
delegation had to say:

"If we list a set of rights,
some fools will claim...

...that the people are entitled
only to those rights. "

Were you just calling me a fool?

I wasn't, the brand-new state
of Georgia was.

Gentlemen, laws must emanate
from the Constitution.

- There are natural laws.
- I do not deny there are natural laws.

I only deny that judges
are empowered to enforce them.

Then who will?

That's not up to me.
And this sideshow is over.

With all due respect,
I find this kind of questioning rude.

Then you'll enjoy meeting the Senate.

Be that as it may, it's disgusting.

We all know you need me.

I read the same
polling information you do.

Seven-to-ten-point bump, unanimous
out of committee. I was courted.

Now you've had me taken
to school by some kid.

That Sam is young
drives me nuts too.

But he took you out for a ride
because that's what I told him to do.

I am a well-credentialed man,
Mr. President.

And I am unaccustomed
to this sort of questioning.

I understand, Peyton.
Could you give us a little time?

We'll make you comfortable
while you're waiting.

Put him on a bus.

That's a confirmation we let go...

...based on an old paper no one will
ever know about but us.

You don't think Sam's guy would know
how to call a senator?

- If this is about abortion...
- It's about the next 20 years.

'20s and '30s,
it was the role of government.

The next decade, it'll be privacy.

I'm talking about the Internet,
health records...

...and who's gay and who's not.

And in a country born on
the will to be free...

...what could be more fundamental
than this?


Let's meet Mendoza.

- They're meeting with Mendoza.
- Yeah.

Yeah, and I'm just gonna go
kill myself now.

- You think he'd be a bad Justice?
- I think he makes a lousy nominee.

- He's in favor of same-sex marriage.
- He's not recommending it.

- He says the state can't interfere.
- He broadly interprets free speech.

Listening to you,
I wish he'd narrow it.

I'm the one who has to sell this.

He is not America's idea
of a Supreme Court Justice.

Let's do a side-by-side comparison.

Harrison went to Walnut Park,
Princeton undergrad and Harvard Law.

Mendoza attended
P.S. 138 in Brooklyn...

...and the New York Police Academy.

Harrison clerked for Berger. Mendoza...

New York City Police Department,
'65 to '76...

...Assistant District Attorney,
'76 to '80.

Assistant U.S. Attorney,
Federal District Judge.

He went to law school the hard way.
He got shot in the leg.

He took a desk job
and went to law school at night.

He is brilliant and compassionate.

You don't think he's America's idea?
You don't have enough faith.

It's the White House senior staff
I don't have faith in.

This isn't easy.
If all hell breaks loose...

...over Lillienfield,
it could cripple us for a year.

The law of large numbers says we gotta
win one of these days, right?

- Yeah.
- So let's make it a good one.

I still hate you.


- Who was that?
- Roberto Mendoza.

It's not necessary for you to stay.

The president asked me to stay
with you.

- I'll stay outside if you like.
- Thanks.

- Like anything?
- Coffee.

Yes, sir.

You look familiar.
Is it possible we've met?

I caddied at Sandy Hook, sir.

Of course. Charlie. Of course.

I'll get your coffee.

I'm sure we're almost done.
Sam, what else you got?

Your rulings have been upheld... the Court of Appeals more than
any other district judge.

That's what comes from being right
most of the time.

- You need me?
- For just a moment.

- Would you excuse me?
- Certainly.

Mr. President....

- What is it, Leo?
- There's gonna be trouble.

- Lillienfield?
- Yes, sir.

- He knows?
- We think so.

- "We"?
- Josh has it.

- What does Josh say?
- Get through it.

- Josh is a smart guy.
- No, sir, Josh is a young guy.

We used to be too.

- Did you have a drink yesterday?
- No.

- You gonna have one today?
- No.

That's all you have to say to me.

You know it's gonna make things
very hard for a while.

You fought in a war, got me elected.
You run the country.

I think we all owe you one, don't you?

Did Harrison get off okay?

Yes. There's a crowd
building outside your office.

- Word's gotten out what's going on.
- I'll bet it has.

More questions, Sam?

- No, sir.
- I have one, sir.

This is not an easy commission
to get appointed to.

What would you say of someone
being fired...

...for refusing a drug test
at the president's order?

Without details
or special circumstances?

I'd say the order constitutes
an illegal search.

I'd order that the employee
be reinstated.

- Toby?
- Sold.

Would it surprise you to learn...

...that your name has been
on the short list for the bench?

Yes, Mr. President.

Then this
is gonna knock your socks off.

Tomorrow evening at 5:00...

...I am naming you as my nominee to be
the next Justice of the Supreme Court.

You were not the first choice,
but you are the last and right one.

Will you accept the nomination?

- With honor.
- Good!

Sam and Toby are
in charge of your confirmation.

- Congratulations.
- Thank you.

It's gonna be a battle
I don't intend to lose.

- Leo, you up for a good fight?
- I believe I have one in me, sir.

Let the good fight begin.

Mr. Justice Mendoza.

- Congratulations.
- Congratulations, sir.