The West Wing (1999–2006): Season 5, Episode 7 - Separation of Powers - full transcript
Deputy counsel Joe Quincy is quietly enlisted by Toby to approach the ailing Chief Justice about possible retirement. With Josh still incapable of lobbying effectively, Leo brings in help to hammer out the budget, but success looks a long way off with a hostile Speaker making negotiations tricky.
Nobody's happy you lost Carrick.
I have to take you out to the woodshed
and whack you with a two-by-four.
Claudia Jean, usually it takes an hour
to hate me and everything I stand for.
Is Angela Blake taking over
I'm trying to get through the week.
Did you hear about the chief justice?
He was presiding at a moot court
competition at NYU.
Thought he was at the Supreme Court.
-We can't start another New Deal.
-How about fighting for the old one...
...instead of haggling with Republicans
over how much to cut?
You know what this is? It's Korematsu.
The mood is Korematsu.
Come on, they're
You're saying there's no
compelling government interest?
There's gotta be a less
discriminatory way to pursue it...
every Tom, Dick and Hamid.
I'll bet you a pickle
that Tom's not an Arab name.
It's Korematsu all over again.
There's a reason Korematsu's
never been overturned.
Okay, you're defending
Next you're gonna tell me Dred Scott
got lost looking for l-95.
-It's a loaded gun.
-Not this again.
Lisa, the Korematsu case
is a loaded gun, just waiting...
...for some martial-law-loving
He's right. He's right.
It's a dangerous precedent.
-Are you gonna finish your chips?
-Salt and vinegar. I wanna live to 30.
So the court shouldn't consider
the potential for sabotage...
...a compelling governmental interest?
It was after Pearl Harbor. You could
argue it was for their own safety.
Let's put you in a stockade, then.
It's a jungle out there.
-I have to do the subcite...
...finish my con law reading.
I'm sorry, sir. I don't... .
They're ready, Mr. Chief Justice.
Do you need help with that, sir?
-Helen, call an ambulance.
-Is he all right?
-Helen, call an ambulance!
-Okay, here it is.
"Chief Justice Roy Ashland
need not be enlarged in death...
...beyond what he was in life:
an idealist, not an icon...
...a man, not a monument, a believer
in the irreducible power of the law...
-...to shape our society. "
-Be careful about saying "man. "
-Why, because--? Come on.
-You'd be surprised. I get letters.
Fine, "human being," then.
Or do the other mammals complain?
-Who said you could come in here?
-It's all right, I'm over the flu.
-You had the flu?
Are we talking about replacements
Grandin, Keith and Toland.
And no, we're not talking about it.
If the vice president had
a few names not to talk about...
...where would he offer not--?
Never mind. I can guess.
-He had another researcher quit.
-What is that--?
-Third since you left.
-Let me guess.
She was turned off
by the vow of poverty?
-Flowers say, "I'm sorry. "
You seem happy.
-Happy. You know...
...the sensation fellow mammalians
Haffley's treating the discretionary
budget like a chew toy.
We're about to cave on tax cuts
...and who the hell knows what else
Angela Blake is giving away in there.
But you know what?
We're gonna appoint a new chief justice.
Breathe new life into the Constitution.
The last five guys didn't get to do it.
We'll shape the future
...the laws that sustain our society...
...or shove somebody in there
to strike down...
...these awful laws
Republicans are passing.
-Hey. Sorry, but there's news--
Buffalo Bob's not picking
the next chief justice.
Neither's the president.
Ashland regained consciousness.
Seems it was only exhaustion, and his
doctors say he'll make a full recovery.
I wouldn 't characterize this
as a crisis or a breakdown.
Here's other things it's not:
a showdown, a stalemate...
...a standoff or a textbook example
of partisan gridlock.
The president has full faith
in the negotiation team....
Do we have any pills
left from that naval doctor?
-The cold and sinus stuff.
The ones that made you sing
"Bye-bye, Miss American Pie"?
It was Harry Chapin.
Those big blue things.
Bet you looked cute when the airmen
had to carry you off of Air Force One.
-C.J.'s making that up.
-I've got some echinacea.
I need the industrial-strength...
...full-throttle, Roto-Rooter stuff.
-Bartram from The Times called.
-I don't know anything.
That's what I told him. I mean,
not exactly. I said you're busy...
and can't do press calls.
Didn't it occur to you to say
I was in the Oval?
I said you're working on
the trip to Japan.
You're only supposed to take one.
Stay away from heavy machinery.
Fortunately, Pa and I brought in
the winter wheat yesterday.
I don't have to operate the combine.
-What if we don't get a budget deal?
-We get another continuing resolution.
Here's what I don't get.
We take these budget extensions...
-...like the dog ate our homework.
-The Republican majority. Close.
People aren't outraged? They can't take
endless amounts of time to finish work.
You forget the beauty
of the federal budget process.
-No one understands it.
The speaker's in front of
a lot microphones. I got a call...
-...from Mel Garber, a producer for ABC.
-Did you take the call?
-I didn't know who he was.
-He works for Diane Mathers.
Yeah. He wanted to know
about my statement...
...to the Secret Service
during Zoey's kidnapping.
Hey, C.J., senior staff in two.
Did you talk to him about it?
Of course not. I took the guy's name
very politely and hung up very politely.
-What was I to do?
-You did the right thing.
-What do I do now?
-Nothing. I've got it. Thanks, Charlie.
-He's not returning the president's calls?
-He's in intensive care.
-I don't think they have phones in there.
-CNN said it was exhaustion.
-So how do we know he's not--?
-So? My grandfather lived to be 90.
My grandfather lived to be 96,
but the last 20 years...
...he thought the Habsburgs
still lived in Vienna.
How long before
this gets dangerous, Leo?
Before we've got a cadaver
ruling on when life begins?
We're talking about an ally
of the president's.
We're talking about an empty robe.
I don't like this any more than you do.
If Roy Ashland were a religion,
But what happens if we wait until
he's senile or ends up in a coma?
We go to a Republican Congress
to impeach? Haffley will never do that.
He'll leave Ashland on a respirator
until one of them...
...wears the Windbreaker
on Air Force One.
-How are budget negotiations going?
-They were there until midnight.
-Back this morning at 6.
Apparently, they're closer
on maritime subsidies.
-Is she in over her head?
-It was a mess.
Angela's gonna make the best deal
she can and get us out in one piece.
If the chief justice won't take calls,
maybe we need to send someone.
What, just show up with a bunch
of balloons and peanut brittle?
-It's time to get Ashland off the bench.
-There's a thing called the Constitution.
It's a nagging little document, but... .
What's this about you breaking
somebody's coffee mug?
...another one of your researchers quit,
that you broke her mug.
It was a ceramic hippo.
It got in the way of a misfiled copy
of the Congressional Record I was--
-Refiling with your throwing arm?
-Can we get back to the chief justice?
What is this,
the fourth researcher this month?
-Leo, he's ready for you.
Stop breaking things.
I don't need the victims of Hippogate
filing class-action suits.
It's gonna be a brisk 42 tomorrow.
Time to break out
that Irish fishing sweater...
...C.J. says makes me look
like an Irish fisherman.
-I'm past the infectious stage.
Excuse me, sir, if I may.
This Diane Mathers interview--
-You still have a problem?
-Yes, I do.
-Abbey thinks it'll be fine. I think so too.
-Yes, sir, but--
-Where's Angela, Leo?
-They were here most of the night...
-...came back this morning.
-She knew this was at 10?
-She'll be here in a minute.
The chief justice
still isn't returning calls.
I tried him a couple times.
They're saying it was exhaustion?
Yes, sir. But we can't
get anyone to confirm it.
His doctors are referring us
to his office.
Roy was a great friend, a great man.
If his medical condition prevents him
from performing his duties as--
He's the best judge of his capacities.
Sorry. I took this sinus stuff. I think
I just lost the hearing in my left--
-Oh, for God-- Bless you.
-It's all right. I'm not getting it.
-I'm getting over it.
-I'm over it.
-Sorry to be late, sir.
-So where are we?
Very close. Fifty billion.
But the speaker will only give us
the college-tuition tax deduction...
...if we reduce capital-gains taxes
by 50 percent...
...and accept a 10-percent corporate
rate cut in our stimulus plan.
Mr. President, I know this is painful, but
if we offer to drop deductible tuition...
...we can get them to leave
-Excuse me? What are we talking about?
-The proposed deduction.
When was tuition put on the table?
It was one of our centerpieces
of our re-elect.
Josh, you're just gonna sit there?
You gotta trust
the person in the room.
-Can we do this, Angela?
Without the deficit
topping 200 billion?
Then everything else is on the table.
Thanks, everyone, that's it.
and Haffley wants tax cuts.
Take away a few zeros,
and he'd pass for a mob accountant.
Mr. President, I don't think
Zoey should do the interview.
The Diane Mathers thing?
Charlie got a call
from Mathers' producers.
They've got his statement about
Zoey considering taking ecstasy.
And they might have Jean Paul
telling his story.
-Abbey thinks Zoey can handle it.
-Diane Mathers is very good at her job.
Sir, if you won't let me cancel it,
at least let me go up there...
...and make sure she's prepared.
Run some interference.
-Take the earliest flight up tomorrow.
-Thank you, Mr. President.
If you'd like, you could travel with C.J.
We could check with Advance.
Who's gonna check with her?
On the chief justice... .
-The chief. Do you think we should try--?
-Thank you, sir.
Do it delicately.
Josh, you got a second?
I need to get out a counteroffer
by this afternoon.
The guys at OMB say
you have budget docs...
-...breakdowns, revenue forecasts?
-We started months ago.
Be good if I could get it and borrow
a body to help me slog through it.
I've got the governors coming in on
emissions standards, the Japan trip--
OMB said that somebody named Donna
knows the docs inside out.
I'd owe you a swordfish steak
-Donna Moss, okay. Sure.
-You're a prince.
You're looking for me?
Labor-H folks are waiting
in the Roosevelt Room.
Deductible tuition? What's next?
We'll save a few bucks
if we shuttered the East Wing...
...turned the South Lawn
into a garage sale.
We're looking at our third CR.
Two months from now,
no one will give a damn...
-...about continuing resolutions.
-You wanted more responsibility.
-What about it?
-The chief justice.
The president knows it's time.
It's not so simple.
That's why I'm giving it to you.
-We can't force him to resign.
-Yeah. No, we can't.
-Hey, Toby. How you been?
-You used to clerk for the chief justice.
-I don't know. If you find it interesting.
-I've never heard you mention it.
The guys with two-bit appellate
clerkships staple it to their foreheads.
-I can't do it, Toby.
-You haven't heard what I'm gonna say.
-You want me to get him to resign.
-I didn't say that.
You've got a limited amount
of time to pick the next guy...
...and confirm him before
the midterms politicize everything.
But I work for you.
It's a question of propriety.
The White House can't pressure
a Supreme Court justice...
...to change his breakfast order,
let alone resign. Separation of powers.
You say that, but in a way
that makes me wonder if you really do.
The president sets the direction
of the court.
-He sets it when there's a vacancy.
-Don't ask him to resign...
...only to sit down
with the president.
You're talking about a guy that stood up
to six administrations, 22 Congresses...
...and had half the country
ready to lynch him.
You think a former clerk
can pry him loose?
I've got a meeting at the OEOB.
What am I, chattel?
There's a request for everything on
the budget from Angela Blake's office.
Yeah, I authorized it.
They've also asked me
to go with the files.
A living index, if you will,
for Angela Blake.
We can call her Angela now.
-You authorize that too?
-Hamurashi ever get the specifics to us?
-On the trade bill? Right here.
The NEC chair can brief in my place
on budget negotiations.
I need HHS Public Affairs, DPC,
Toby and Will to walk him through...
...the talking points,
any key developments on the Hill.
I have to phone AP and the Post.
I'm playing catch-up
for leaking that exclusive...
...on DOD Approps to The Times.
-She's not out here.
I was just talking to her.
I didn't know if I'd see you
before you left.
-Give this to Zoey.
-I love Macy Gray.
Zoey's been in a solo, whispery,
female acoustic rut right now.
I want to get her into
something with drums.
-How about some John Philip Sousa?
-Drums, but not so much the batons.
My mom used to watch Diane Mathers
all the time.
When she had that talk show.
She seemed nice, sympathetic, sincere.
This is a woman who gets dictators
to cry, talk about their love of puppies...
...confess they had
concentration camps built...
...because they couldn't get dates.
-Zoey's gonna be fine, you know.
-So everyone keeps saying.
The president hasn't changed
his mind about coming?
-I thought he would in the end.
-They came up with it in a bar?
-It was that or the hops deduction.
There was this guy named Matt Kelley,
and he was making $55,000 a year.
-His daughter got into Notre Dame.
So the Move-lt-to-Bermuda Corporation
gets a deduction when they buy off...
...their C.E.O. for $ 100 million.
Why not pass a break
for guys like Matt?
-You don't think so?
-lf his daughter needed braces...
...would Josh and Toby have come up
with a plan for universal orthodontia?
-Not a chance, huh?
-We can still get tax-deductible tuition.
We can get a lot of things.
Gotta get them to give it, that's all.
How do you think we're doing?
-Me? I'm not--
-You're an American.
You pay taxes, consume
...our side's done a bad job explaining
why what we're fighting for is important.
It's not about abstract programs
and endless acronyms...
...but real things
that affect real people...
...like affording college.
You talk to Josh about that?
-We both going to the ONDCP briefing?
-No, we're going in here.
Gee, Toby, people are gonna talk.
It wouldn't be for the obvious reason,
-What's the obvious reason?
-You're a conservative.
Maybe you'd love to see him stay
on the bench, a liberal icon...
...reduced to a quivering mass
of octogenarian confusion...
...hanging on till he can be replaced
by a paleo-Republican.
Constitution's a living document.
You stick to it like
it's a boilerplate lease.
You don't know
what you're talking about.
Every year he likes to hire
a conservative clerk to argue with.
And arguing with him helped me
clarify the things I believe in.
One of those things is an independent
court, above party or interest.
He has memory lapses,
drifts during oral arguments.
The associate justices
are already postponing decisions...
...holding over important cases...
...going behind his back
to assign opinions.
-You don't know that.
-Yeah, I do.
There's no one else left, Joe.
He's outlived his wife.
His son shot down over Hanoi.
-It's just his clerks. Clerks like you.
-You can't do anything.
Let's go over there together.
Right now, you and me.
-To the hospital?
-He'll see you.
You tell me he's okay,
and I'll call off the vultures.
Hey, Lisa. You catch the night shift?
Six to midnight.
Steve's coming in
to handle the overnights.
This is Toby Ziegler.
Toby, this is Lisa Zimmer...
...one of the justice's clerks.
Sure, I've seen you on Crossfire.
I hope you won't be offended,
but we're keeping it to family only.
You know, friends, colleagues.
I just came along to keep Joe company.
I saw a coffee cart down in the lobby.
-You want anything?
I'll be downstairs when you're done.
I don't know what they've told you,
but he always bounces back.
He always does.
Mr. Chief Justice?
-I gave him the president's regards.
And what did he say? How is he?
Was he coherent?
You know why I didn't want it
to spread that I used to clerk for him?
Because I knew someday
somebody like you...
...would come ask me
to do something like this.
-So he's all right?
You think it's all a game.
You treat the court like it's
Tammany Hall gone national.
Your side does it better?
...hoping they don't grow a conscience
or an understanding of jurisprudence?
Maybe we could all do it better.
But there is such a thing called judicial
independence. A lifetime appointment.
He's still alive, so he gets
to decide when it's time.
What did he say?
Or can he even speak?
He's fine, Toby.
He was up...
He'll be back in chambers
in a couple of days.
Hey, how you feeling?
The president's Osaka remarks
on opening Japan's microchip market...
...and complaining about autos
and flat glass.
Flat glass. Excellent.
It's a new thing I'm doing.
A positive-attitude thing.
Just seeing if you need anything.
Donna's helping Angela.
-The negotiations went late, after 2.
They're due to resume
in about 20 minutes.
Donna's in the budget negotiations?
How's it going?
I think I'm coming down
You say that, but in a way that
makes me wonder if you really are.
I can still feel it, you know?
The first time I ever got
called into his office...
...and yelled at about something
he'd read in my law review note.
He'd read my law review note.
And all I could think was,
"This is the guy. "
He's why a cop has to
read a criminal his rights.
He's why a couple of mixed race
can get married in the state of Texas.
I spent three nights as a One-L...
...trying to pick apart
his Baines v. U.S. Steel.
I couldn't do it.
I was in a room with Ashland once.
I was a student at City College.
The Student Organizing Committee
got him to give a speech...
...on the history of voting rights.
We were hanging from the rafters.
I talked to him afterward.
I mean, he wouldn't remember me.
But I spent the next six weeks
organizing a voter registration drive...
...for Bed-Stuy and Bensonhurst.
You know when you go out West,
how they say:
"Don't miss the Grand Canyon.
It's one of the few things in life...
...when you actually see it,
it doesn't disappoint"?
That's Roy Ashland.
He was unconscious last night.
Never came out of it.
Never said a word.
I don't wanna see him gone, Joe.
I want nine Ashlands on the court.
I just... .
I just wish he was 40 years younger.
Diane likes to keep things
She'll try and zing you with some
indirect attribution like, "People say" ...
-...or, "There's a rumor that... . "
There's a rumor that
you're seeing a therapist.
-You don't have to answer.
-lf you don't answer...
...she'll wait like a forgiving,
...between the Virgin Mary
and a schnauzer.
-It's nobody's business--
-Mom, I wanna answer.
-Yes, I'm seeing a therapist.
I couldn't have dealt with this
completely on my own.
I've had lots of support from friends
and family, but I also needed help.
I've gotten some, and it's...
-...you know, been good.
-The help's helped.
Great. I'll use that. Thanks.
Zoey, we need to take a moment
and talk about that night at the club...
...with Jean Paul.
Had you agreed to take drugs?
What's going on?
We had a bit of a breakdown,
if breakdown is the word.
-Works for me.
They don't wanna deal.
The capital gains cut--
They came back and said
it was not negotiable.
-They even wanna make it bigger.
-So, what now?
Another continuing resolution,
till Christmas this time.
You let it drag on that long,
they'll try to defund the yule log.
It gets better.
They won't continue funding.
They want a cut on everything
but Defense and Homeland Security.
How could this happen?
No, Leo, how is this acceptable?
You take this to the president,
you know what he'll say?
He'll say yes. To keep the lights on.
To make sure government employees
keep getting paid. It's two months.
This isn't governing.
He'll say that too.
-At least be... .
-I don't know, embarrassed.
-It wasn't her.
You know the hand she was dealt.
You saying it was me?
No, I'm saying we won in a landslide
but we didn't take Congress with us.
Now we're not taking the country
with us, and the other guys know it.
I've gotta get back to work.
It's nice when you make new friends.
All this time
she's been fighting for you.
For your plan to send
everyone to college.
It's not a bad plan.
They didn't think so either.
They wanted to go with it.
Run ads, they voted for it. But we'd
have had to squeeze Medicaid, the EITC.
Poor people paying
for college and Wall Street.
I don't think Jed Bartlet
would sign off on that.
I got you till Christmas.
Back to argue
Mimoud v. Transportation Security?
Suspect class, strict scrutiny.
No, no, no.
You work for the president now.
-It'd be ex parte.
-I'm glad to see you're doing better, sir.
This just a social visit?
No, sir, it's not.
The president sent you?
Yes, sir, he did.
I think it's time we called each other
by our first names...
...Mr. Chief Justice.
Another continuing resolution
to take us through the holidays.
So now we won't have a budget until
we're up against the State of the Union?
-Anything on Ashland?
-He's coming over to see the president.
-I just got off the phone with Joe.
Well, that's great.
We gave away college tuition
Good work on the chief justice.
I don't think anyone should try and go
through something like this alone.
And has it helped?
The help's helped.
-I think we can all see that.
-Good. I'm glad.
...I know this will be difficult...
...but what happened that night at the
club with Jean Paul and the ecstasy?
-Now, he says that you--
-I know what he says.
-You sound angry.
-I am angry.
The only thing I can do,
the only thing any of us can do...
...is tell the truth about what happened
to us and try to find a way to live...
...with the shame and self-doubt that
comes from having trusted someone...
...who then betrayed you.
Is there anything you'd like to say
to Jean Paul?
-How much longer?
-She'll be wrapping up.
-That was her big gun.
-Thank you. She did well.
-You did an excellent job.
It's what she needed, time up here.
I meant you've raised
a remarkable young woman.
She was always Jed's little girl.
...may I say we miss you.
That's very kind.
Please don't be offended
if I say I don't miss you.
It's been very busy.
The budget, Japan in a few weeks...
...and the chief justice and... .
We get newspapers up here, C.J.
You don't have to apologize
for him not coming.
I asked him not to.
He's getting off the phone
with his daughter.
I'll let him know you're here, sir.
I can walk.
Mr. Chief Justice.
-I didn't do it for you.
My God, Jed. You look terrible.
Yes, well, there's something
I'm glad to see you
doing so well, sir.
-Yes, I am.
Can you do it?
I don't want to.
But if it's time,
if your condition warrants... .
Who would you get to replace me?
I'd hope to consult with you.
Oliver Wendell. Marshall.
John or Thurgood, either one.
I want Brandeis, Blackmun, Douglas.
But you can't get them, can you?
Because it's all compromises now.
The ones who have no record
No body of opinions,
nothing you can hold them to.
That's who they'll confirm.
The other eight are preparing
to take it away from you, Roy.
Holding over cases,
the major decisions.
How long can the country wait?
My clerks are preparing a brief.
There's an Arab-American man,
Grabbed out of a line at the airport.
What's next? Tribunals?
-Bar codes tattooed on our forearms?
-Then give me a name.
New York State Supreme Court.
Susan Bengalli, 9th Circuit... .
But they won't confirm them,
I have good days and bad.
But on my worst day, I am better...
...than the amped-up ambulance chasers
you could get confirmed by the 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.
-They all here?
-Mr. Speaker, who'd have thought, huh?
-Mr. Vice President.
President's finishing up a meeting.
He'll be right in.
-Any word on the chief justice?
-That's the meeting.
-He's in the White House?
-Came straight from his adjustable bed.
Man's a force of nature.
Mr. Speaker, senator.
I want to thank you, Mr. President,
on behalf of my colleagues.
None of us think this is
a perfect deal.
No one likes to see the sausage made,
including the guys who make it...
...but this is an expression
of willingness by both sides...
...to keep all avenues open
to an eventual resolution.
Yes, thanks, Robert.
And thanks for saying it this time.
I think I had to make that little speech
the last time around.
Or maybe the time before.
This is our third CR, our third time
coming up short. We gotta do better.
People aren't paying us
to duck the hard choices.
-Run through the details, Angela?
-An act of Congress.
A continuing resolution to extend
no later than January 3rd, midnight...
...to include a reduction
by 1 percent--
I'm sorry, there's been a change.
I know we talked
about a 1 -percent cut.
It's gonna have to be 3.
Mr. Speaker, nothing like this
was even mentioned, much less--
-I'm sorry we couldn't give more notice.
We just came from our conference
and I had significant opposition...
-...to only 1 percent.
-Only 1 percent.
We had a deal at 1 percent.
But my members have to
go back to their districts...
...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.
Three percent may sound painful,
but it's only for two months.
It'll show we're serious.
In two months? Five percent? Fifty?
How many rounds do we go, Jeff?
I'm just asking.
There is no next, sir.
I mean, 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,
And I said, no.
Let's be clear, sir.
We will not vote
to keep on footing the bill.
You will be held responsible for shutting
down the federal government.
Then shut it down.