"He certainly is not going to want to be in dissent with the three liberals," said David A. Strauss, a law professor at the University of Chicago.
The chief justice has the power to assign the majority opinion, to himself or to an ally, but only when he is in the majority. To keep that power, he would have good reason to tack right.
"Between the assignment power and how good he is at writing opinions," Professor Strauss said of the chief justice, "he can push decisions to be more to his liking in the majority than if he were writing a dissent."
In the coming weeks, months and years, the Supreme Court may be called upon to weigh issues as varied and weighty as the presidential election, the fate of affirmative action, the structure of the administrative state and the role courts can play in addressing climate change. Judge Barrett had not written major opinions in any of those areas, and, in any event, the views expressed by appeals court judges do not always predict their positions when they are elevated to the Supreme Court.
Here is a look at some of Judge Barrett's views in major cases on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and what they suggest about her impact if she is confirmed.
Judge Barrett has considered three laws restricting abortions from her home state, Indiana. In all three cases, she expressed misgivings about earlier rulings from appeals judges that had struck down the laws.
In one case, her court let stand a ruling that threw out a law tightening the requirements for notifying the parents of minors seeking abortions. Judge Barrett was on the losing side, joining an opinion that the ruling was premature and that the law should have been allowed to go into effect to assess its actual impact.
Citing the "unsettled status of pre-enforcement challenges in the abortion context," the opinion called on the full court to address the question. "Preventing a state statute from taking effect is a judicial act of extraordinary gravity in our federal structure," the opinion said.
Justice Kavanaugh also took issue with such pre-enforcement challenges in a dissent in the Supreme Court's most recent abortion case, which struck down a restrictive Louisiana law. In July, the Supreme Court sent the Indiana case back to the appeals court for reconsideration in light of the one from Louisiana.