The Supreme Court’s argument calendar rounded out the millennium amiably last week. The final argument of the century was a snoozer called United States v. Johnson , on the riveting subject of when a federal prisoner’s supervised release time should begin.

Barbara McDowell, one of the stars in the solicitor general’s office, won incalculable points with the Court by sitting down confidently with 17 minutes of her half-hour to spare. She had nothing important left to say, and she wisely chose not to say it anyway.

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