When a Supreme Court justice retires, President Bartlet has a golden opportunity to impact the court's composition by nominating a favorite judge but when further study reveals the ... See full summary »



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Congressman Peter Lillienfield
Justice Joseph Crouch
Judge Peyton Cabot Harrison III

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When a Supreme Court justice retires, President Bartlet has a golden opportunity to impact the court's composition by nominating a favorite judge but when further study reveals the candidate's conflicting ideology, the President might change his mind and opt for another judge. In addition, a headline seeking congressman on the House Government Oversight Committee accuses the White House staff of substance abuse -- a dicey issue for one important member. Written by Jackson corneille

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Release Date:

24 November 1999 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


During Congressman Lillienfield's press conference, he mentions some names of former White House staffers. One name included was Rumsfeld, who had staffed for Presidents Nixon and Ford prior to this episode. He was later named to the cabinet, again, under President George W. Bush. See more »


While grilling Judge Harrison in the Oval Office, Sam points out the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments all contain points of privacy in the Bill of Rights. Judge Harrison states that because the framers of the Constitution picked those specific points, they had no intention of including privacy as a right. Everyone seems to have forgotten the Ninth Amendment, which reads: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." See more »


President Josiah Bartlet: You know, I imagine the view from your largely unscrutinized place in history must be very different from mine. But I'd remind you, sir, that I have the following things to negotiate: an opposition Congress, special interests with power beyond belief, and a bitchy media.
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References Masterpiece Classic (1971) See more »


West Wing Main Title
Written by W.G. Snuffy Walden
Performed by Pete Anthony
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User Reviews

One of the best episodes of Season One, maybe the whole series.
15 May 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is by and large my favorite episode of Season One, and Season One is pretty excellent all on its own. The episode starts with Josh and CJ (or mostly Josh, according to... Josh) coaxing a deal for a Supreme Court Justice to step down, meaning they can put someone on the bench. Bartlet settles on a nominee, Payton Cabot Harrison III, who they believe is a home run choice. The staff sets to work making sure the process goes smoothly. Before stepping down, the outgoing Justice Crouch criticizes the President for going the easy route and not considering Roberto Mendoza. The wheels begin to come off as a Congressman accuses 1 in 3 White House staffers of illegal drug use. Josh begrudgingly begins investigating the claim to ensure their nominee holds the spotlight. As often happens in The West Wing, the President also begins to wrestle with "the easy choice" or "the right choice" and asks Toby to look into Mendoza, just as Sam uncovers a big kink in the nomination: a decades old unsigned note that could spell trouble. They bring it to the President who demands they look into it, and then he decides to meet Judge Mendoza. The different threads of the episode begin to weave together here beautifully: the subject of the unsigned note is privacy, which is discussed in a meeting between Harrison, the President, Sam, and Toby. Josh believes that the Congressman's accusations are directed at Leo, who is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. Sam begins to like Harrison less and less, who believes privacy is not a de facto right. Mendoza meets the President, and blows them all away. He is qualified, intelligent, liberal, and just. As Leo's privacy is about to be invaded in the media, President Bartlet asks Mendoza to accept the nomination, which he does. The President presents "Mr. Justice Mendoza" to the West Wing as the episode ends.

Edward James Olmos as Roberto Mendoza is one of my favorite pieces of casting ever. When the President asks Mendoza if he'll accept the nomination, and Olmos growls "With honor", I nearly stood up and saluted.

The writing and regular cast is, of course, fantastic, as with most of The West Wing. A staple of the show also makes its first appearance here: Gail the Goldfish, given to CJ by Danny Concanon. (It's an adorable moment between the two, and Allison Janney is especially good in the scene, featuring her wonderful laugh). This episode is one of the most liberally idealistic of a fairly liberal and idealistic show, so I was predisposed to enjoy it, but I think it holds up without my bias anyway.

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