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.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that a black Georgia man convicted of murder by an all-white jury should have a new trial because the prosecution deliberately excluded African-Americans from the jury based on their race.

The court's decision reversed as "clearly erroneous" an earlier ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court, which had said the defendant had not proved racial discrimination in the selection of his jury.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Supreme Court appears to be leaning in favor of reversing the corruption conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, based on Wednesday's oral arguments.

At the case's core is how to determine a clean "official act" from a corrupt one, and where the line is.

Justice Elena Kagan said during oral arguments that the court is concerned both about overzealous prosecutors and giving a free pass to corrupt politicians.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments Wednesday in a case that tests the corruption conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

At issue is a great deal more than one case.

The federal government contends that if the Supreme Court voids the conviction, it could cripple enforcement of laws against public corruption. The defense counters that if the conviction is upheld, it would turn ordinary political acts into crimes.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Twenty-one years ago, the nation was rocked by the largest domestic terrorism attack it had ever experienced. A bomb at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City killed 168 people, including 19 children in a day care center on the ground floor.

President Obama's controversial executive actions on immigration were challenged in the Supreme Court on Monday.

While it's impossible to glean how the court will ultimately decide the case, the eight justices seemed evenly split along ideological lines during oral arguments, leaving a real possibility of a 4-4 tie.

The fate of one of President Obama's controversial executive actions on immigration goes before the Supreme Court on Monday. The action would grant temporary, quasi-legal status and work permits to as many as 4 million parents who entered the U.S. illegally prior to 2010. The president's order applies only to parents of children who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The U.S. Supreme Court said Wednesday that the federal government cannot, before trial, seize the assets of the accused if those assets are unrelated to the crime and are needed to pay a defense attorney.

The court's ruling came in the case of a Miami woman named Sila Luis, who was accused of Medicare and banking fraud. Prosecutors charged that she used kickbacks and other schemes to fraudulently obtain $45 million.

The Supreme Court has ordered more legal briefs in the birth control case it heard last week, indicating that the justices are struggling to avoid another 4-4 tie. The case tests the religious liberty claims against the Obamacare mandate for birth control in all health insurance plans.

The U.S. Supreme Court has deadlocked on a 4-4 vote in a major labor case. The court, without further comment, announced the tie vote Tuesday. The result is that union opponents have failed, for now, to reverse a long-standing decision that allows states to mandate "fair share" fees from nonunion workers.

Vice President Biden said Thursday that President Obama, in an effort to win confirmation from a Republican Senate, had named a more moderate judge to the U.S. Supreme Court than he might otherwise have done.

The rights of the religious and the secular clash again Wednesday at the Supreme Court, this time in the controversial context of Obamacare and birth control.

The Supreme Court strongly suggested Monday that stun guns are protected by the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

In 2008 the court, by a 5-4 vote, declared for the first time that the Second Amendment guarantees citizens the right to own and keep a handgun in their homes for self-defense. But that decision in District of Columbia v. Heller left unresolved many questions about how much the government could regulate that right, and what weapons are included.

Just after President Obama and I concluded our interview — and after the microphones and cameras clicked off — he added a thought.

Senate Republicans' vow not to consider the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court, he said, could have profound consequences for the high court and the justices themselves.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

President Obama's choice to serve as the newest Supreme Court justice is Merrick Garland, a moderate federal appeals court judge and former prosecutor with a reputation for collegiality and meticulous legal reasoning.

Garland, who has won past Republican support, has "more federal judicial experience than any other Supreme Court nominee in history," a White House official said. "No one is better suited to immediately serve on the Supreme Court."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The U.S. Supreme Court, without hearing oral argument, has unanimously reversed an Alabama Supreme Court ruling that denied parental rights to a lesbian adoptive mother who had split with her partner. The decision is a direct repudiation of an Alabama Supreme Court decision that refused to recognize a Georgia adoption.

Even with the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Wednesday could mark a potential turning point for the Supreme Court on the subject of abortion. At issue is whether a new Texas law imposes restrictions that unconstitutionally limit a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy.

Last June, a federal appeals court upheld the law. If the Supreme Court agrees, it would mean a dramatic cutback on abortion rights across the country, and potentially a steppingstone toward the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

The Supreme Court hears arguments Monday testing whether a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice violated the Constitution when he ruled in a death penalty case that he had been involved with as a prosecutor.

At issue is whether then-Chief Justice Ronald Castille, by refusing to recuse himself, denied the defendant, Terrance Williams, a fair hearing.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Justice Antonin Scalia, who died on Saturday, lay in repose at the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, as the court, the public and the president paid their respects. While the battle over Scalia's replacement raged in the political world, the atmosphere at the court was somber.

The flag-draped casket was carried up the marble steps of the Supreme Court on Friday morning, between two long rows of former Scalia clerks, and into the Great Hall.

Inside, the remaining eight justices lined up in their new order of seniority, as they will be on the bench on Monday.

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will pay their respects to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who will lie in repose at the Supreme Court on Friday.

The first family will not attend a brief private ceremony at the court in the morning. According to the White House schedule released Thursday evening, the Obamas will arrive in the afternoon, after general visiting has begun.

The late Justice Antonin Scalia will lie in repose at the Supreme Court on Friday. The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., according to sources close to the Scalia family.

In a tradition that dates back to 1873, Scalia's Supreme Court chair and bench were draped with black wool crepe today. The court has also placed a black drapery over the courtroom doors.

The last high court justice to lie in repose at the Supreme Court was Chief Justice William Rehnquist in 2005.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Even Atonin Scalia's ideological opponents - in fact, maybe especially his opponents - acknowledged that the late Supreme Court justice changed the nation's conversation about the Constitution.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly on Saturday. We spoke to NPR's Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg about his life, legacy and what's next.

1. Let's talk about Scalia's legal perspective. He was known as a proponent of originalism. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Originalism, as defined by Justice Scalia and others, is that what is in the Constitution literally is what the founding fathers meant.

Pages