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." She is also a regular panelist on Inside Washington, a weekly syndicated public affairs television program produced in the nation's capital.

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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2:14am

Wed October 10, 2012
Law

Justices Return To Affirmative Action In Higher Ed

Originally published on Wed October 10, 2012 5:48 am

Students walk through the University of Texas, Austin, campus near the school's iconic tower on Sept. 27.
Eric Gay AP

The U.S. Supreme Court returns on Wednesday to the emotional issue of affirmative action in higher education. The court will once again hear oral arguments on the issue, this time in a case from the University of Texas.

Over the past 35 years, the court has twice ruled that race may be one of many factors in determining college admissions, as long as there are no racial quotas. Now, just nine years after its last decision, the justices seem poised to outright reverse or cut back on the previous rulings.

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2:29am

Mon October 1, 2012
Law

High Court Preps For Another Headline-Making Term

Originally published on Mon October 1, 2012 8:30 am

The U.S. Supreme Court is embarking on a new term beginning Monday that could be as consequential as the last one, with the prospect of major rulings on affirmative action, gay marriage and voting rights.
Alex Brandon AP

It would be hard to beat last June's cataclysmic, cacophonous end of the Supreme Court term and the decision upholding the Obama health care law. But while all the media focus is on the upcoming elections, the U.S. Supreme Court is about to begin yet another headline-making term, with decisions expected on affirmative action in higher education, same-sex marriage, the Voting Rights Act and a lot of privacy issues.

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5:50pm

Wed July 25, 2012
It's All Politics

Interviewing Scalia: Verbal Wrestling Match With A Master

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 1:31 pm

Nina Totenberg interviews Justice Antonin Scalia at the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
Kainaz Amaria NPR

I've gotten a lot of email about my interview with Justice Antonin Scalia on Tuesday. People seem to have liked the story because they could see the justice as a human being — combative, funny, engaging and charming.

That's why I and so many other folks always enjoy spending time with him.

So, take this exchange from our interview. Only part of it was in my piece on air, or even the longer piece on the Web.

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3:44am

Wed July 25, 2012
Law

Justice Scalia Disputes Accuracy Of 'Leak'

Originally published on Wed July 25, 2012 6:02 pm

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spoke with NPR on Tuesday at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
Kainaz Amaria NPR

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, influential conservative and pugilistic dissenter, is challenging everything from a recent leak about Supreme Court deliberations, to conventional wisdom about the court and its history.

In a new book co-authored with Bryan Garner, Scalia spells out his judicial philosophy, and on Tuesday, the always voluble, charming and combative justice sat for a wide-ranging interview — about the book, his relationships on the court, and the recent leak alleging anger among the justices over the recent health care decision.

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1:20pm

Sun July 22, 2012
The Two-Way

Obama's Judicial Nominees Face Slowed Confirmation Process

Originally published on Sun July 22, 2012 1:33 pm

We are all used to judicial nomination fights, but what has been remarkable in the Obama administration has been the molasses-like confirmation process for noncontroversial nominees, especially federal district court nominees.

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3:06pm

Mon July 16, 2012
Law

Even Scalia's Dissenting Opinions Get Major Scrutiny

Originally published on Mon July 16, 2012 9:01 pm

Justice Antonin Scalia testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Oct. 5, 2011.
Alex Wong Getty Images

As legal observers have sifted through the ashes and the tea leaves of the recent Supreme Court term, one justice has stood out for his dissents.

Justice Antonin Scalia was the first name on the joint dissent filed by four justices in the health care case. But it was Scalia's dissent in the Arizona immigration case, written for himself alone, that drew particular attention, and especially harsh criticism.

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2:26am

Fri July 6, 2012
Law

Supreme Court Has A Term To Remember, Not Expect

Originally published on Mon July 30, 2012 8:20 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court took on a number of high-profile cases this term, including the decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court have fled Washington, leaving in their wake a storm of historic headlines. In the last 10 days alone, the high court upheld the Obama health care law, struck down much of the Arizona immigration law and ruled unconstitutional mandatory sentences of life without parole for juveniles convicted of murder.

Chief Justice John Roberts is in Malta, a place that, as he pointed out, is "an impregnable island fortress." He puckishly observed that it "seemed like a good idea" to go there after the tumultuous end of the Supreme Court term.

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4:15pm

Thu July 5, 2012
It's All Politics

Federal Judge Richard Posner: The GOP Has Made Me Less Conservative

Originally published on Fri July 6, 2012 10:12 am

Judge Richard Posner of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.
John Gress Reuters /Landov

Judge Richard Posner, a conservative on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, has long been one of the nation's most respected and admired legal thinkers on the right. But in an interview with NPR, he expressed exasperation at the modern Republican Party, and confessed that he has become "less conservative" as a result.

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6:06pm

Tue July 3, 2012
It's All Politics

Did Roberts Flip On The Health Care Decision?

Originally published on Wed July 4, 2012 1:00 pm

Since the Supreme Court's health care ruling, there's been a lot of speculation about whether Chief Justice John Roberts changed his mind during the course of deliberations.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

In the days since the Supreme Court's historic health care ruling, there has been a good deal of speculation about whether Chief Justice John Roberts changed his mind in the course of deliberations, deciding late in the game to uphold the constitutionality of most of the law.

Even before the decision was announced, conservative writers railed that liberals and the so-called mainstream media were trying to intimidate the chief justice.

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4:00am

Fri June 29, 2012
Law

Chief Justice Robert's Vote Saves Health Care Law

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 5:44 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. The Supreme Court's decision to uphold President Obama's health care law defied many predictions: the outcome, the legal grounds, and the makeup of the court majority. For Chief Justice John Roberts, his definitive court opinion was either a triumph of judicial restraint, or a sellout, depending on who you talk to.

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5:09pm

Thu June 28, 2012
Law

Tight Court Decision Produces Explosion Of Emotion

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 9:45 am

This artist's rendering shows Chief Justice John Roberts (center) speaking at the Supreme Court on Thursday. From left are Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito and Elena Kagan. The court voted 5-4 to uphold President Obama's health care law.
Dana Verkouteren AP
  • NPR Special Coverage: The Health Care Decision

Shock, dismay, relief, confusion — all those emotions played out Thursday when the U.S. Supreme Court announced its 5-to-4 decision to uphold almost all of President Obama's health care overhaul.

The ruling, with shifting majorities on different provisions and multiple dissents, covered close to 200 pages and provoked initial confusion. Both Fox News and CNN got it wrong, reporting at first that the individual mandate had been struck down. But when the dust cleared, the law labeled derisively by Republicans as "Obamacare" was largely intact.

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4:50am

Tue June 19, 2012
Law

Jury: Roger Clemens Not Guilty Of Perjury

Originally published on Tue June 19, 2012 8:48 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer.

A federal jury has acquitted baseball pitching ace Roger Clemens on all charges. The jury found Clemens not guilty of lying to Congress and of obstructing a congressional investigation into performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg was in the courtroom. She has this report.

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5:56pm

Mon June 18, 2012
Law

Supreme Court Sides With Illinois In DNA Case

The U.S. Supreme Court, headed into the homestretch of its term, once again weighed into the question of whether lab technicians must testify in criminal cases about test results. But in four separate opinions that spanned 92 pages, the justices were anything but clear.

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4:22pm

Mon June 18, 2012
Law

Baseball Legend Clemens Found Not Guilty Of Perjury

Originally published on Mon June 18, 2012 6:52 pm

Former pitcher Roger Clemens, center, and his attorneys Rusty Hardin, right, and Michael Attanasio arrive on the courthouse steps after Clemens was found not guilty on all charges in his perjury trial at U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on Monday.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

A federal jury acquitted pitching ace Roger Clemens of all charges on Monday. The jury found Clemens not guilty of lying to Congress and obstructing a congressional investigation into performance-enhancing drugs.

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12:55pm

Mon June 11, 2012
The Two-Way

Defense Rests In Roger Clemens Perjury Trial

Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens, accompanied by his attorney Rusty Hardin, left, arrives at federal court in Washington on Monday.
Haraz N. Ghanbari AP

The defense has rested in the Roger Clemens perjury trial, without Clemens testifying. The last defense witness was the former Yankees security director, Gerald Laveroni, who told the jury the prosecution's star witness cannot be believed.

Laveroni worked for the Yankees from 2000 to 2010 overlapping with the time when Clemens pitched for the Yankees and his chief accuser, Brian Mcnamee, served as a trainer.

Asked how much credibility McNamee had, Laveroni replied, "Zero."

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