Nina Totenberg

Nina Totenberg is NPR's award-winning legal affairs correspondent. Her reports air regularly on NPR's critically acclaimed newsmagazines All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition.

Totenberg's coverage of the Supreme Court and legal affairs has won her widespread recognition. Newsweek says, "The mainstays [of NPR] are Morning Edition and All Things Considered. But the creme de la creme is Nina Totenberg."

In 1991, her ground-breaking report about University of Oklahoma Law Professor Anita Hill's allegations of sexual harassment by Judge Clarence Thomas led the Senate Judiciary Committee to re-open Thomas's Supreme Court confirmation hearings to consider Hill's charges. NPR received the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award for its gavel-to-gavel coverage — anchored by Totenberg — of both the original hearings and the inquiry into Anita Hill's allegations, and for Totenberg's reports and exclusive interview with Hill.

That same coverage earned Totenberg additional awards, among them: the Long Island University George Polk Award for excellence in journalism; the Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for investigative reporting; the Carr Van Anda Award from the Scripps School of Journalism; and the prestigious Joan S. Barone Award for excellence in Washington-based national affairs/public policy reporting, which also acknowledged her coverage of Justice Thurgood Marshall's retirement.

Totenberg was named Broadcaster of the Year and honored with the 1998 Sol Taishoff Award for Excellence in Broadcasting from the National Press Foundation. She is the first radio journalist to receive the award. She is also the recipient of the American Judicature Society's first-ever award honoring a career body of work in the field of journalism and the law. In 1988, Totenberg won the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton for her coverage of Supreme Court nominations. The jurors of the award stated, "Ms. Totenberg broke the story of Judge (Douglas) Ginsburg's use of marijuana, raising issues of changing social values and credibility with careful perspective under deadline pressure."

Totenberg has been honored seven times by the American Bar Association for continued excellence in legal reporting and has received a number of honorary degrees. On a lighter note, in 1992 and 1988 Esquire magazine named her one of the "Women We Love".

A frequent contributor to major newspapers and periodicals, she has published articles in The New York Times Magazine, The Harvard Law Review, The Christian Science Monitor, Parade Magazine, New York Magazine, and others.

Before joining NPR in 1975, Totenberg served as Washington editor of New Times Magazine, and before that she was the legal affairs correspondent for the National Observer.

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Law
2:58 am
Tue June 30, 2015

Supreme Court Concludes Term With Death Penalty Ruling, Looks Ahead

The gurney in the the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Okla. On Monday the Supreme Court voted 5-4 in a case from Oklahoma that the sedative midazolam can be used in executions without violating the prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.
Sue Ogrocki AP

Originally published on Tue June 30, 2015 11:52 am

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday issued the last of its opinions for this term — on the death penalty, anti-pollution regulations and the power of independent commissions to draw congressional and state legislative districts. In addition, the court issued a set of orders that set up cases to be heard next term on affirmative action and abortion.

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It's All Politics
4:27 pm
Mon June 29, 2015

Lethal Injection Ruling Draws Out Justices' Passionate Opinions

In dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that under the majority's reasoning it would not matter if the prisoner was being "drawn and quartered, slowly tortured to death, or actually burned at the stake," as long as there was no more humane method of execution available. Justice Antonin Scalia orally rebutted Justice Stephen Breyer's dissent, calling it "gobbledygook."
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Mon June 29, 2015 5:02 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday dealt a major blow to death penalty opponents, upholding the use of a controversial drug as part of a three-drug execution cocktail. The vote was 5-4, with unusually passionate and sometimes bitter opinions from the majority and dissenting justices.

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Law
5:00 pm
Fri June 26, 2015

Supreme Court Changes Face Of Marriage In Historic Ruling

Gay rights advocates John Lewis (left), and his spouse Stuart Gaffney kiss across the street from City Hall in San Francisco, on Friday following a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that same-sex couples have the right to marry nationwide.
Jeff Chiu AP

Originally published on Sat June 27, 2015 7:32 am

In a historic ruling Friday, the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court declared marriage a fundamental constitutional right not just for opposite-sex couples, but for same-sex couples too.

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Law
9:55 am
Fri June 26, 2015

Supreme Court's Same-Sex Marriage Ruling: A Reaction

Originally published on Fri June 26, 2015 5:06 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

It's All Politics
5:17 pm
Thu June 25, 2015

Supreme Court Thwarts Efforts To Put Obamacare On Life Support

At the heart of the case ruled on by the Supreme Court Thursday are the exchanges where people go online to shop for individual insurance.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Fri June 26, 2015 3:09 am

The U.S. Supreme Court handed the Obama administration a sweeping victory on Thursday, upholding the nationwide subsidies that are crucial to the president's health care law. By a 6-3 vote, the high court ruled that Congress meant all three major provisions of the law to apply to all states and to work in tandem.

The ruling was the court's second decision upholding the Affordable Care Act — three years ago, it upheld the law as constitutional.

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Law
2:39 pm
Mon June 22, 2015

This California Raisin Grower Just Got His Day In The Sun

Raisin farmer Marvin Horne stands in a field of grapevines planted in 1918 next to his home in Kerman, Calif. Horne was elated by Monday's Supreme Court decision. "It's just an affirmation in our Constitution and the American way of life," he said.
Gary Kazanjian AP

Originally published on Wed June 24, 2015 2:13 pm

The Supreme Court on Monday struck down a Depression-era federal program aimed at stabilizing raisin and other commodity prices.

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Law
4:08 pm
Mon June 15, 2015

High Court Sides With Government On Spousal Visa Denial

Fauzia Din came to the United States as a refugee from Afghanistan in 2000, and later petitioned for an immigrant visa for her husband. The Supreme Court concluded a consular officer was justified in citing unspecified "terrorist activities" in denying that visa.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon June 15, 2015 5:21 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld the government's broad discretion to give only a cursory explanation for refusing to grant a visa to the spouse of an American citizen. The justices divided 5-to-4, concluding that a consular officer's citation of unspecified "terrorist activities" was enough to justify barring a spouse without further explanation.

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It's All Politics
5:23 pm
Mon June 8, 2015

Court Sides With President Over Congress In 'Jerusalem' Passport Dispute

Ari Zivotofsky (right) with his son, Menachem, outside the Supreme Court in 2011. Menachem, now 12, was born in Jerusalem, but the court ruled Israel cannot be noted as the birthplace on his passport.
Evan Vucci AP

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday sided with the president in a long-running struggle with Congress over who controls recognition of foreign countries and what information about nationhood can be put on the passports of American citizens.

In a 6-to-3 decision, the high court struck down a law requiring the State Department to indicate on passports that the city of Jerusalem is part of Israel. The decision was a blow to the pro-Israel lobby and to congressional power over certain parts of foreign policy.

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It's All Politics
8:48 pm
Mon June 1, 2015

Justices: Retailer Can't Refuse To Hire Someone Because She Wears Hijab

Samantha Elauf outside the Supreme Court after the court in February 2015.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 2, 2015 11:31 am

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that Abercrombie & Fitch violated the nation's laws against religious discrimination when it refused to hire a Muslim teenager because she wore a headscarf.

Samantha Elauf, 17, applied for a job selling clothes at the Abercrombie Kids store in Tulsa. She long had worn a hijab — a headscarf — for religious reasons, and she wore the black scarf when she was interviewed by the store's assistant manager.

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It's All Politics
5:05 pm
Wed April 29, 2015

It's Sotomayor V. Roberts In Supreme Court Death Penalty Drama

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor grilled lawyers arguing the constitutionality of new lethal-injection cocktails.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 29, 2015 5:13 pm

Lethal injection was the grim subject before the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday. Specifically at issue: whether the drug combinations currently used to execute convicted murderers in some states are unconstitutionally cruel.

The issue comes to the court after three botched executions over the past year.

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