As a former federal judge, Attorney General Michael Mukasey must have grown to appreciate terseness in the lawyers who appeared before him. Mukasey certainly took it to heart when he appeared before the Supreme Court on Tuesday for the first time. His answers to justices’ questions were brief, to the point, and seemed to hit the right notes.

Mukasey followed in the footsteps of some but not all of his predecessors in arguing at least one case before the nation’s highest court during his or her tenure. And following tradition, he was offered a not-too-taxing case to argue. In United States v. Ressam, it was his job to convince the Court that a law requiring a 10-year minimum sentence for anyone who “carries an explosive” during commission of a felony does not necessarily require that the explosives relate to the crime.

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