A former chief judge of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals once said that the White House has kept trying to appoint ideologues to serve on that court, but after being confirmed those judges have consistently defied such expectations. That former chief judge could have been speaking specifically about Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr.

In my experience, Alito is far from an ideologue, and in civil cases his votes on the 3rd Circuit have been unpredictable. Alito’s lengthy background as a federal prosecutor may explain the perception that he is pro-government in criminal cases, but even there his record demonstrates that he decides each appeal on its merits.