President Bartlet's answer about the death penalty at the beginning of the episode is taken (almost verbatim) from the answer Governor Michael Dukakis gave during a 1988 presidential debate against then-Vice President George H.W. Bush.
The character of Will Bailey's half sister is named "Elsie Snuffin". This is a reference to real life actress Elsie Sniffen (who later changed her name to Kayla Blake), who had a recurring role as Kim in Sports Night (1998), also written and created by Aaron Sorkin. Executive producer John Wells was also a supervising producer on the series China Beach (1988), where Sniffen appears in at least one episode.