Brett Kavanaugh was enthusiastic last year when he recounted William Rehnquist‘s efforts to roll back the 1960s expansion of criminal defendants’ rights. He called the late chief justice his “first judicial hero” and a “role model.”

A review of Kavanaugh’s time on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit shows, with some notable exceptions, that he hasn’t shied away from ruling against criminal defendants.

But only about 8 percent of the cases he reviewed on the...