West Wing Wiki
West Wing Wiki

OSCAR WINNERS MARLEE MATLIN, KARL MALDEN GUEST-STAR -- After the Supreme Court refuses to stay the execution of a Federal prisoner convicted of killing two drug kingpins, President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) must decide whether or not to commute his sentence in less than 48 hours, so he calls upon his sagacious childhood priest (guest star and Oscar winner Karl Malden) for guidance. Meanwhile, even Toby (Richard Schiff) feels the heat over the controversial issue when he hears a sermon on capital punishment from his rabbi (guest star David Proval). Elsewhere, a deaf, combative campaign manager (guest star and Oscar winner Marlee Matlin) adamantly seeks an audience with the President when her Democratic congressional candidate has purposely been underfunded by his party before the upcoming election to unseat an incumbent.


The episode opens with the Supreme Court denying a writ of certiorari and ordering the execution of a prisoner on death row (Simon Cruz). The lawyers want to find someone in the White House they can appeal to. One of them (Bobby Zane) suggests they call Sam Seaborn, as he "used to beat him up in school."

At the White House, Josh and Sam are readying for a weekend off when Sam reminds Josh that he is supposed to meet with Joey Lucas about O'Dwyer, who is running for Congress in the California 46th. Josh had been looking forward to a bachelor party that evening and did not want to have to come in on Saturday, which Donna concurs, because Josh cannot hold his liquor. Sam is determined to take the time off, threatening to leave both his pager and cell phone behind. As he starts to pull his door shut, his desk phone rings. Although he closes the door, he comes back and answers the phone.

Sam meets with Bobby and goes over the facts of the pending execution. Sam tells him that he will brief Toby and Toby will take it to the President. Bobby asks what temple Toby goes to and rushes off. Back at the White House, Sam tells Leo what is going on. Leo questions why the execution is not taking place until Monday morning when it is Friday evening and the Court has denied the writ. Sam explains that executions do not take place between sundown on Friday and sunup on Monday. "We don't execute people on the Sabbath," replies an astounded Leo. On Saturday morning, Donna comes into the office and finds Josh passed out on the floor, completely disheveled from his night out. Not only is he hung over, he is filthy and she reminds him of his meeting with Joey Lucas. She begins to work at finding him new clothes.

Upon the President's return on Air Force One, Leo meets the group at Andrews and rides back with the President to bring him up to speed. In the next scene, Toby is sitting in temple when his pager goes off. He gets up to respond and calls Sam, who tells him about the appeal being denied and asks if his rabbi is giving a sermon on capital punishment. Toby says yes and tells Sam he is on his way. Josh is sleeping at his desk when he is awakened by Kenny, who is screaming Joey's words at him (allowing Josh to finally understand that Joey Lucas is a woman and is deaf). Josh gets up to go change his clothes and Donna tells him that he needs to go see Sam because "they turned down the appeal."

In the residence, Leo is talking to President Bartlet about the Cruz case. Bartlet is clearly uncomfortable about being put in the situation. Bartlet asks Charlie to bring Father Thomas Cavanaugh to the White House to offer his counsel to the President. The Senior Staff is working through the Cruz issue while Josh and Joey are going back and forth about her candidate. She demands to see the President just as the President happens by. The President asks Joey about what should be done about Simon Cruz. Joey takes the opportunity to ask about her candidate. The President tells Joey that O'Dwyer is an empty shirt and if she gets someone worthwhile he will get interested.

Toby goes back to his temple and has a conversation with his rabbi about the Cruz case. Back at the White House, Mandy and C.J. go over what C.J.'s role would be in the Cruz case. In the Oval Office, Toby comes to see the President to make his case. Leo comes in and the President and Leo talk some more. Nancy tells the President that Sam would like to see him. The President tells Leo that he doesn't want to see him and Leo has to tell Sam "the President's done" and he cant do anything more about this right now.

Josh goes to see Kenny and Joey Lucas at the airport to talk to her and tells her the President would get interested if a better candidate came along. She asks Josh if the President gave him any names. Josh replies, "yes he did - you."

Back at the White House, Father Cavanaugh arrives and sits with President Bartlet. Cavanaugh asks him how many people were going to have to come to him before he would decide to commute the sentence. C.J. comes in and gives the President a note informing him that Cruz has been executed. Father Cavanaugh offers to hear Jed's confession, upon which Jed gets on his knees and begins to give Father Cavanaugh his confession.


Rob Lowe as Sam Seaborn
Moira Kelly as Mandy Hampton
Dulé Hill as Charlie Young
Allison Janney as C.J. Cregg
Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler
John Spencer as Leo McGarry
Bradley Whitford as Josh Lyman
and Martin Sheen as President Bartlet

Special Guest Star

Marlee Matlin as Joey Lucas[1]
Karl Malden as Father Thomas Cavanaugh

Recurring cast

Janel Moloney as Donna Moss
Bill O'Brien as Kenny Thurman
Renee Estevez as Nancy

Guest Starring

Noah Emmerich as Bobby Zane
David Proval as Rabbi Glassman
Felton Perry as Jerry
Herb Mitchell as Justice


Devika Parikh as Bonnie
Ellen Sugarman as Cantor
Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick
Joe Cosgrove as Peter Hayes
Richard Gross as Bailiff
Juan A. Riojas as Secret Service Agent
Carmela Rioseco as Sophia Cruz


Donna – You have a very sensitive system
Josh – I wish you'd stop telling people that, it makes me sound like an idiot
Joey – Are you drunk?
Josh – I have a very delicate system
He asked me if I had any influence over Toby Ziegler. I told him clearly he hadn't spent any time with Toby Ziegler
—Rabbi Glassman
Leo, there are times when we are absolutely nowhere!


  • The small bible used by Karl Malden's character is the same one he used in On the Waterfront (1954).[2]
  • Richard Schiff argued to Sorkin and Lawrence O'Donnell Jr. that Charlie Young should not rollback his statement that he himself would kill his mother's murderer, as Schiff found the notion of revenge interesting in the exploration of that character.
  • This is one of the few episodes of the series without a "Previously on The West Wing" montage.
  • In the DVD commentary, it is mentioned that Allison Janney was very sick during the shooting and had trouble getting through one scene. Luckily her character was supposed to be very upset in that episode. After the president's plane lands and they get into the car you can hear and see her sneeze.


  • During Toby's discussion with his Rabbi, the Rabbi's arm position over the back of the pew changes repeatedly between shots.
  • Joey Lucas states she is running a campaign against a conservative Republican who supports "amending the Bill of Rights to prohibit burning an American flag." The Bill of Rights are the first ten amendments to the Constitution. He can support amending the Constitution but not the Bill of Rights. We should keep in mind, however, that the purpose of such an amendment is to alter the breadth of the first amendment.
  • At the end of the episode Father Tom says that Jed was sent "a priest, a rabbi and a Quaker", however he has not met Toby, nor Joey Lucas, so could not know that Jed had spoken to people of two other faiths before talking to him. Although, it is possible he could have been briefed on the situation out of scene.[3]


Notes and references[]

  1. First appearence of Joey Lucas, who becomes a recurring character throughout the show
  2. Karl Malden: A life on screen (July 2009)
  3. "The West Wing" Take This Sabbath Day (2000) — Trivia copied from IMDb

I PilotPost Hoc, Ergo Propter HocA Proportional ResponseFive Votes Down
The Crackpots and These WomenMr. Willis of OhioThe State DinnerEnemiesThe Short List
In Excelsis DeoLord John MarburyHe Shall, from Time to Time...Take Out the Trash Day
Take This Sabbath DayCelestial Navigation20 Hours in L.A.The White House Pro-Am
Six Meetings Before LunchLet Bartlet Be BartletMandatory Minimums
Lies, Damn Lies and StatisticsWhat Kind of Day Has It Been?
II In the Shadow of Two Gunmen (Part I)In the Shadow of Two Gunmen (Part II)The Midterms
In This White HouseAnd It's Surely to Their CreditThe Lame Duck CongressThe Portland Trip
ShibbolethGalileoNoëlThe Leadership BreakfastThe Drop-In
Bartlet's Third State of the UnionThe War at HomeEllie
Somebody's Going to Emergency, Somebody's Going to JailThe Stackhouse Filibuster
17 PeopleBad Moon RisingThe Fall's Gonna Kill You18th and PotomacTwo Cathedrals
III Manchester (Part I)Manchester (Part II)Ways and MeansOn the Day BeforeWar CrimesGone QuietThe Indians in the LobbyThe Women of QumarBartlet for AmericaH.Con - 172100,000 AirplanesThe Two BartletsNight FiveHartsfield's LandingDead Irish Writers
The U.S. Poet LaureateStirredEnemies Foreign and DomesticThe Black Vera Wang
We Killed YamamotoPosse Comitatus
IV 20 Hours in America (Part I)20 Hours in America (Part II)College KidsThe Red Mass
Debate CampGame OnElection NightProcess StoriesSwiss DiplomacyArctic Radar
Holy NightGuns Not ButterThe Long GoodbyeInauguration (Part I)
Inauguration: Over There (Part II)The California 47thRed Haven's on FirePrivateers
Angel MaintenanceEvidence of Things Not SeenLife On MarsCommencementTwenty-Five
V 7A WF 83429The Dogs of WarJefferson LivesHanA Constituency of OneDisaster ReliefSeparation of PowersShutdownAbu el BanatThe Stormy PresentThe Benign PrerogativeSlow News DayThe Warfare of Genghis KhanAn KheFull DisclosureEppur Si Muove
The SupremesAccessTalking PointsNo ExitGazaMemorial Day
VI NSF ThurmontThe Birnam WoodThird-Day StoryLiftoffThe Hubbert PeakThe Dover TestA Change Is Gonna ComeIn The RoomImpact WinterFaith Based Initiative
Opposition Research365 DaysKing CornThe Wake Up CallFreedoniaDrought ConditionsA Good DayLa PalabraNinety Miles AwayIn God We TrustThings Fall Apart2162 Votes
VII The TicketThe Mommy ProblemMessage of the WeekMr. FrostHere Today
The Al Smith DinnerThe DebateUndecidedsThe WeddingRunning Mates
Internal DisplacementDuck and CoverThe ColdTwo Weeks OutWelcome to Wherever You Are
Election Day (Part I)Election Day (Part II)RequiemTransitionThe Last Hurrah
Institutional MemoryTomorrow