If there’s a 4-1 vote among commissioners at the Federal Trade Commission, it’s a good bet that J. Thomas Rosch will be the one standing alone. Over the past five years, the Republican commissioner has staked out independent positions that don’t fit any ideological box — and has seen some of his concerns validated by the courts.

“I’ve really not hesitated to speak up when I disagree,” said Rosch, a former antitrust litigator who was the managing partner of Latham & Watkins’ San Francisco office before he began serving as a commissioner in 2006. “To some extent, it’s because I’m older — I can afford to be much more outspoken.”

At age 71, Rosch doesn’t pull his punches. He called a consent decree with the head of a physician practice group “a sad conclusion to an unnecessarily sordid tale,” and described the agency’s new merger guidelines as “flawed.”

Last fall, he objected to the FTC’s complaint challenging the merger of Laboratory Corp. of America and Westcliff Medical Laboratories Inc., calling the market definition erroneous. The courts agreed and the FTC dropped the case.

Rosch has also been a leader on issues such as the intersection of antitrust and intellectual property, and Section 5 of the FTC Act, which prohibits entities from engaging in unfair or deceptive practices that affect commerce.

“His clarity of vision and litigation expertise enable him to help move the agency so it fulfills its mission,” said former FTC policy director David Balto, who added that Rosch’s dissents “will influence the law long after the majority decisions are forgotten.” — Jenna Greene