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. She is often featured in documentaries — most recently RBG — that deal with issues before the court. As Newsweek put it, "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, including 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 more than two dozen honorary degrees. On a lighter note, Esquire magazine twice named her one of the "Women We Love."

A frequent contributor on TV shows, she has also written for major newspapers and periodicals — among them, The New York Times Magazine, The Harvard Law Review, The Christian Science Monitor, and New York Magazine, and others.

Updated July 1, 2021 at 4:37 PM ET

The U.S. Supreme Court Thursday gutted most of what remains of the landmark Voting Rights Act. The court's decision, while leaving some protections involving redistricting in place, left close to a dead letter the law once hailed as the most effective civil rights legislation in the nation's history.

The 6-3 vote was along ideological lines, with Justice Samuel Alito writing the decision for the court's conservative majority, and the liberals in angry dissent.

Updated June 23, 2021 at 4:48 PM ET

In a victory for student speech rights, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that a former cheerleader's online F-bombs about her school is protected speech under the First Amendment.

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Updated June 21, 2021 at 5:45 PM ET

Faced with the prospect of reshaping college athletics, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a narrow but potentially transformative ruling Monday in a case that pitted college athletes against the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

At issue in the case were NCAA rules that limit educational benefits for college players as part of their scholarships.

Updated June 17, 2021 at 5:05 PM ET

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act for the third time on Thursday, leaving in place the broad provisions of the law enacted by Congress in 201o. The vote was 7 to 2.

The opinion, written by Justice Stephen Breyer, was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

Facing its biggest student speech case in a half-century, the Supreme Court seemed to be looking for a narrow exit door on Wednesday.

At issue was whether schools may punish students for speech that occurs online and off-campus but that may affect school order.

The case has been billed as the most important student speech case since 1969. That landmark ruling came at the height of the Vietnam War. Mary Beth Tinker and four other students went to court after they were suspended for wearing black armbands to school to protest the war.

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As March Madness heads into its final days, college athletes are playing on a different kind of court: the Supreme Court. On Wednesday the justices heard arguments in a case testing whether the NCAA's limits on compensation for student athletes violate the nation's antitrust laws.

The players contend that the NCAA is operating a system that is a classic restraint of competition in violation of the federal laws barring price fixing in markets, including the labor market.

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The U.S. Supreme Court seemed ready on Tuesday to uphold Arizona's restrictive voting laws, setting the stage for what happens in the coming months and years, as Republican-dominated state legislatures seek to make voting more difficult.

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A constitutional law professor whose work is cited extensively by former President Donald Trump's lawyers in their impeachment defense brief says his work has been seriously misrepresented.

The U.S. Supreme Court sided with Germany on Wednesday in a dispute over artworks obtained by the Nazis from German Jewish collectors in 1935. The court unanimously rejected a lower court ruling that had allowed the heirs of the onetime owners to proceed with their claim that the sale had been coerced.

At the center of the case is the Guelph Treasure, one of the most famous collections of medieval artifacts in existence. Now valued at $250 million, it has long been on display in a German state museum in Berlin.

The Biden administration faces some tough choices in the coming weeks over how it should deal with the Supreme Court.

The justices have already heard arguments or agreed to hear them in more than 60 cases this term. In most of these cases, the Trump administration has already taken a position on behalf of the U.S. government. While the Biden administration may oppose many of the Trump positions, it knows that the justices do not look kindly on the government flip-flopping.

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With pressure mounting on President Trump, there's a new focus on a question that has come up since Day 1 of the Trump administration. Can he pardon himself? NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg reports.

Updated at 6:06 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court ducked a direct ruling Friday on whether President Trump can exclude undocumented immigrants from a key census count.

At issue in the case was Trump's July memorandum ordering the U.S. Census Bureau for the first time to exclude undocumented immigrants from the decennial census for purposes of reapportionment. The count is used to determine how many seats each state gets in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College.

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Jed Leiber remembers playing chess with his grandfather when he was a boy, and learning about all that Saemy Rosenberg had left behind behind when he fled Germany in the 1930s.

"I made a promise to myself that one day I would find everything that was taken from him and have it returned," Leiber says.

So Leiber was listening intently on Monday when the justices dealt with his grandfather's famous art collection and its coerced sale to the Nazis. It was not the first time the court has dealt with the Nazis theft of important works of art.

Is a non-unanimous jury verdict in a criminal case ever constitutional?

Just months ago, the Supreme Court ruled for the first time that such verdicts violate the Sixth Amendment's right to a jury trial. But the 6-3 decision applied only to future cases. The justices, apparently divided at the time over whether the decision should apply to past cases, left that question for another day.

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Joining us now is NPR's legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg.

Nina, welcome back.

NINA TOTENBERG, BYLINE: Hi.

There will be plenty of firsts on Monday as the Senate Judiciary Committee opens hearings on the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It is the first time that a confirmation hearing is taking place amid a pandemic and with two committee members, both Republicans, recently having tested positive for the coronavirus.

It is also the first time that a confirmation hearing is taking place at the same time early voting has begun in many states, and in a presidential election year.

The U.S. Supreme Court opens a new court term Monday, while across the street at the Capitol, Republicans are seeking to jam through, before the Nov. 3 election, President Trump's nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the court.

Trump offered Barrett the nomination just two days after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. And since then, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has been leading the GOP charge to get Barrett confirmed before Election Day.

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All right, amid the uproar over the president's pandemic response, a new item appeared on the White House schedule yesterday, and it was very clearly a change of subject.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Pamela Talkin had been at the Supreme Court in the top security job for less than two months when 9/11 hit. Her first task that morning was to evacuate the building, but Chief Justice William Rehnquist didn't know a terrorist attack was in progress, and he was presiding over an important meeting with chief judges from around the country. When a note Talkin sent in got no response, she walked into the room and ordered everyone out of the building, fast.

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