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Separation of Powers

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"Previously on the West Wing" spoken by C.J.

As the President's staff wrangle with Speaker Haffley over the pending federal budget, Toby dispatches the former Supreme Court clerk and personal friend of the Chief Justice, Joe Quincy to check on the condition of the stricken Chief Justice -- an ancient Supreme Court icon who has Washington wondering if he will finally step down. As the clock ticks on a new budget, hard-charging Angela faces a mighty challenge as she tries to hammer out an agreement that could compromise Bartlet's campaign promises. But the President is also focused on a crucial national TV interview that Zoey has agreed to tape with a well-known newswoman with a knack for exposing raw emotions.

Summary Edit


In the offices of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Chief Roy Ashland is preparing for oral arguments.  Ashland stands - takes a few steps - and collapses in the hall.

At the White House, Senior Staff are discussing a statement memorializing the Chief Justice, and [not] talking about his replacement.  They speak briefly about the budget negotiations when Will comes over to report the Chief Justice is not dead, he has regained consciousness.

Act IEdit

Josh is watching C.J.'s briefing and calls for Donna.  The two discuss the budget negotiations.  In the lobby, C.J. and Charlie walk in together - Charlie tells C.J. about a call he received from a reporter who asked him about the night of Zoey's kidnapping.  Charlie did not respond.

Leo and Toby are talking about what to do about the Chief Justice.  Toby wants to send someone over to talk to Ashland about stepping down.  Will is in Leo's office and asks about the budget negotiations - Leo tells them that not much progress has been made.

Senior Staff gathers in the Oval Office to meet with the President.  C.J. expresses concern over a planned interview of Zoey by Diane Mathers.  The President believes it is going to be fine but agrees to let C.J. go to New Hampshire to supervise and help prep Zoey.  Angela Blake comes in to report on the budget negotiations.  The College Tuition Tax Credit has been put on the table - unbeknownst to Josh and Toby - Toby is angry - but the President agrees to keep it available if they can get a budget deal.

Angela comes to see Josh to get all of the budget documents that he has been working on and also to ask for Donna's help.  Josh agrees.

Toby comes to see Leo - who tells Toby that it's time to get the Chief Justice to step down. 

Act IIEdit

Toby comes to see Joe Quincy.  Before Toby can even ask - Joe tells him he can't do it.  Joe knows that Toby is asking him to approach the Chief Justice - but Joe politely explains to Toby that it can't be done.  Toby impresses upon Joe that something needs to be done and asks Joe to go with him to the hospital - if Quincy confirms for Toby the Chief Justice is OK - he'll back off.  They arrive at the hospital and Joe goes in to see the Chief Justice - who is unconscious and connected to several machines.  When Toby and Joe leave - Joe lies to Toby, saying the Chief was fine - up and around and will be back at work in a few days.

Donna asks Josh if he knows about the request from Angela for the budget documents and her. Josh tells her yes, he authorized it.  Later, she and Angela are going over the notes - Angela is asking about the college tuition credit and how Josh and Toby came up with it.

C.J. is trying to clear her desk to go to New Hampshire.  Charlie comes by with a CD for Zoey - he asks C.J. to give it to her and tells C.J. that Zoey is going to be fine in the interview.

Act IIIEdit

Margaret comes to see Josh to bring him some notes on the upcoming trip to Japan.  He is surprised to hear that Donna has been invited into the negotiations with Angela.  Later, we see the Republicans leaving the building - the negotiations have broken down.  Josh tries to convince Leo and Angela to go to the President, but Leo agrees to let Angela negotiate a new continuing resolution.

Joe comes to Toby to talk about Ashland.  Joe tells Toby the truth - that Ashland was unconscious the night before.  Joe returns to the hospital to see Ashland - who is now awake.  Ashland knows the President sent Joe to talk to him.

In New Hampshire - C.J. is going over with Abbey and Zoey, some of the questions that Diane Mathers may ask Zoey.

Act IVEdit

Toby comes to see Leo and asks about the budget negotiations - Toby is upset they gave away the college credit for a CR and not a budget.  Toby tells Leo the Chief Justice is on his way to see the President.  Joe brings the Chief Justice (in a wheelchair) to the Oval Office.  Ashland stands and walks into the Oval Office to meet with the President.  The two talk about a replacement - the Chief Justice tells the President that he's not strong enough to get a replacement that in any way measures up to him.

In New Hampshire - the interview is going on between Diane Mathers and Zoey as Abbey and C.J. watch nervously from the side.

The Republicans return to the White House to finalize the CR - but the Speaker changes his demands from a 1% cut to a 3% cut - the President stands his ground and refuses - the Speaker tells the President he will be responsible for shutting down the government - to which the President then says - "Then Shut it Down."

Trivia Edit

Quotes Edit

Chief Justice Ashland: Holmes, 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.
Speaker Haffley: You will be held responsible for shutting down the Federal Government.
President Bartlet: Then shut it down.

Cast Edit


Special Guest StarsEdit

Guest StarringEdit



"The West Wing" Separation of Powers (2003)