West Wing
Separation Of Powers

Episode Report Card
Deborah: C+ | 3 USERS: A
One Foot In The Grave

Joe and Toby stand in the lobby, waiting. Thunder rolls in the background. The doors open, and Chief Justice Ashland is brought in via wheelchair. Joe takes over Lisa's duty of steering the chair, and there's a slow procession to the Oval Office, where Leo's waiting outside. Charlie comes out and says that Jed's just getting off the phone with his daughter. Charlie goes to tell POTUS that Ashland's arrived. He comes back right away to take him in, and Joe starts to push the wheelchair. Ashland stops him, saying he can walk. He gets up slowly and with effort, as Leo says, "Mr. Chief Justice." Ashland straightens up and enters the Oval Office. Toby, Leo, Joe, and Lisa all watch. Toby quietly says to Joe, "Thank you." Without taking his eyes from Ashland, Joe says, "I didn't do it for you."

For some reason, as Ashland enters Jed's office, the lights briefly dim almost to complete darkness, and then come back up to their normal levels, somewhere between "Intimate Dinner Party" and "Séance." Is that a storm-related brownout or just arty camera work? Jed walks over to Ashland and shakes his hand, greeting him as "Chief." Ashland: "My God, Jed, you look terrible." Heh. Jed says there's something going around. He helps Ashland to his seat, and then pulls a side chair closer to to him. Jed says he's glad to see Ashland doing so well. Ashland: "Are you?" Jed insists that he is. Ashland: "Can you do it?" Jed says he doesn't want to: "But if it's time...if your condition warrants...." Ashland wonders who Jed would get to replace him. Jed: "I'd hope to consult with you." Ashland thinks for a very short moment and says, "Holmes." Jed: "Holmes?" Ashland: "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 of...scholarship...no body of opinions, nothing you can hold them to. That's who they'll confirm. Raging mediocrities." Jed tells Ashland that the other eight are preparing to take it away from him: "Holding over cases, the major decisions. How long can the country wait?" Ashland leans forward and says, "My clerks are preparing a brief. There's an Arab-American man -- Mimoud. Grabbed out of a line at the airport. What's next? Tribunals? Identity cards? Bar codes tattooed on our forearms?" Jed: "Then give me a name." The lights dim again. Ashland's got some: "Daniel Robinov, New York State Supreme Court. Susan Bengali, Ninth Circuit. But they won't confirm them, will they?" Jed shakes his head slightly. Ashland says he has good days and bad days: "But on my worst day, I am better than the amped-up ambulance-chasers you can 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." More thunder and lightning. Just in case you don't get how dramatic it is for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to kick the President metaphorically in the balls.

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West Wing




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