The West Wing

Season 5 Episode 17

The Supremes

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Mar 24, 2004 on NBC



  • Trivia

    • President Bartlet has nominated 3 Supreme Court justices, including Roberto Mendoza in "The Short List" from the first season, and Christopher Mulready and Evelyn Baker Lang in this episode.

    • Josh certainly has a jaded view of the Supreme Court. First, he says there are six centrists, two conservatives and Ashland, a liberal. That makes nine jurists, except that one of the conservatives has just died! Second, he seems to have forgotten that Mendoza, confirmed in the first season, was considered a hardline liberal. Either Josh is such a lefty he considers Mendoza a centrist or Mendoza actually compromised his positions and became one, which seems inconsistent with his character as established in the first season.

  • Quotes

    • Leo: Let's go, people. First one to find me a Supreme Court Justice gets a free corned beef sandwich.

    • Donna (referring to Mulready): He's on the short list?
      Josh: He is if she is. We may get both.
      Donna : Oh, my God, you're putting my mother's cats on the Supreme Court.

    • Toby (muffled): There is someone in my office.
      Rena: I thought it was your ex-wife.
      Toby: You didn't want to warn me about that?
      Rena: You asked her to come in.
      (Toby walks into his office, Andy is there)
      Andy : She's cute.
      Toby: Late some night, our eyes will meet over the Maritime Comission report. We'll be at the justice of the peace before dawn...

    • Lisa Wolfe (teasing Josh):Three times in one week. In some cultures, we'd be married.
      Josh (stoic) :Chilling.

    • Toby: If -- IF we were gonna try this -- what would be the plan?
      Josh: We give the President and Leo the name. We bring Christopher Mulready in. We bring Lang back in. Hopefully the two of them woo the pants off the President, and he agrees to the deal without noticing he's standing in the gaze of history, pantless.

  • Notes

    • Music Featured In This Episode: - "Stay" by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

    • Awards and Nominations: This episode won the 2005 WGA Award for Episodic Drama (Deborah Cahn).

    • Joshua Malina does not appear in this episode.

    • Music:
      1. When the President starts yelling about Mulready, and Debbie turns up the music to drown him out, we hear the soundtrack of the 1988 movie "Dangerous Liaisons", featuring this episode's guest star Glenn Close.
      2. C.J. Cregg and Senator Pierce sing Don MacLean's "American Pie."

  • Allusions

    • Evelyn Baker Lang: If you're [Congressman] Webster, the question is, "Where do you stand on Roe v. Wade?"

      The Supreme Court, in 1973, ruled in the case Roe v. Wade to strike down a Texas law banning abortion. This effectively made abortion a legal procedure in the United States.

    • Senator Pierce: Watch yourself. He's a lean and hungry type.

      Reference to Caesar's line in the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar, "Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look; he thinks too much; such men are dangerous."

    • Judge Mulready: Harlan's jeremiad on Jim Crow.

      John Marshall Harlan (1833 – 1911) was an associate justice of the Supreme Court who strongly dissented against the 1896 decision Plessy v. Ferguson, which established the doctrine of "separate but equal", embodied by the so-called "Jim Crow" laws.

    • Josh : I want more than bright. If we had a bench full of moderates in '54, Separate but Equal would still be on the books, this place would still have two sets of drinking fountains.

      Separate but equal was a policy adopted into law throughout the U.S. Southern states during segregation, stating that African-Americans would receive the same services (schools, hospitals,drinking fountains, bathrooms, etc.), as white Americans, but that there would be different facilities for each race. The facilites were actually unequal, as blacks received poorer facilities than whites did. In 1954, thanks to Brown v The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the Supreme Court outlawed the practice and required all education facilities to be integrated.