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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3:34am

Mon June 11, 2012
Judging The Health Care Law

Health Care Decision Hinges On A Crucial Clause

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 10:12 am

For more than 200 years, the Supreme Court has interpreted the meaning of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. Its latest test is the case challenging the Obama health care law.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

All of Washington is breathlessly awaiting the Supreme Court's imminent decision on the Obama health care overhaul. Rumors circulate almost daily that the decision is ready for release. As usual, those rumors are perpetrated by people who know nothing, but the decision is expected by the end of this month.

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5:44pm

Mon June 4, 2012
The Two-Way

High Court Rules 'Equal Protection' Doesn't Extend To Municipal Taxpayers

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Constitution's guarantee to equal protection of the law does not extend to taxpayers who paid more for a sewer hookup than their neighbors.

The case centered on what essentially amounted to an amnesty program for some taxpayers when Indianapolis switched from one payment system to another.

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2:33pm

Mon June 4, 2012
It's All Politics

Supreme Court Backs Secret Service Agents In Dick Cheney Case

Originally published on Mon June 4, 2012 5:36 pm

Vice President Dick Cheney speaks at a 2006 Republican rally in Idaho.
Jason Hunt AP

In a case involving then-Vice President Dick Cheney's Secret Service detail, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that agents accused of a politically motivated arrest are immune from suit. But the court's unanimous ruling did little more than resolve this particular case.

The decision stems from an incident in 2006 in the Colorado resort town of Beaver Creek, where Cheney was shaking hands at a shopping mall. Steven Howards got in line and when his turn came, he told the vice president that the Bush administration's Iraq policies were "disgusting."

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6:08pm

Mon May 21, 2012
Law

Court: No Benefits For Kids Conceived After Dad Died

Originally published on Mon May 21, 2012 7:21 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that that a Florida man's children, conceived after his death through in vitro fertilization, are not entitled to Social Security survivors benefits. More than 100 similar cases are pending before the Social Security Administration, but Monday's ruling is unlikely to resolve most of them.

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7:18pm

Thu May 17, 2012
Law

Clemens' Former Trainer Admits Changing Testimony

Originally published on Fri May 18, 2012 3:49 pm

Brian McNamee, Roger Clemens' one-time trainer, leaves federal court in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

The prosecution's star witness underwent a withering cross-examination on Thursday at Roger Clemens' perjury trial. Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, is charged with lying to Congress when he testified that he never used performance-enhancing drugs. Brian McNamee, his one-time trainer, is the only witness who has firsthand evidence that contradicts the baseball-pitching ace.

Earlier this week, guided by the prosecution, McNamee testified in agonizing and repetitive detail about how he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone between 1998 and 2001.

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3:03am

Sat May 12, 2012
Deceptive Cadence

Roman Totenberg: A Musical Life Remembered

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 3:54 pm

At 101, Roman Totenberg was teaching students up to the very end of his life.
Suzanne Kreiter The Boston Globe via Getty Images

[Roman Totenberg was a child prodigy who became a violin virtuoso, as well as a master teacher who passed along his command of craft and his love of music — and life — to thousands. He was also the man you wanted to sit next to at the table because he was so funny. Totenberg died this week at the age of 101, surrounded by loving family, friends and students. We asked his daughter, Nina Totenberg, for this remembrance. — Scott Simon]

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4:36pm

Tue May 8, 2012
Remembrances

Roman Totenberg's Remarkable Life And Death

Originally published on Thu May 10, 2012 12:20 pm

Totenberg teaches student Letitia Hom in his classroom at Boston University. Totenberg made his debut as a soloist with the Warsaw Philharmonic at age 11.
David L. Ryan The Boston Globe via Getty Images

My father, world-renowned virtuoso violinist and teacher Roman Totenberg, whose professional career spanned nine decades and four continents, died early Tuesday morning at the age of 101.

His death was as remarkable as his life. He made his debut as a soloist with the Warsaw Philharmonic at age 11, performed his last concert when he was in his mid-90s, and was still teaching, literally, on his deathbed. This week, as word flew around the musical world that he was in renal failure, former students flocked to his home in Newton, Mass., to see the beloved "maestro."

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5:26pm

Wed May 2, 2012
Law

Key Clemens Witness Leaves Prosecutors Scrambling

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 9:44 am

Andy Pettitte leaves the courthouse after testifying Wednesday in the perjury and obstruction trial of former teammate Roger Clemens in Washington, D.C.
Win McNamee Getty Images

The prosecution at the perjury trial of baseball great Roger Clemens suffered another major setback Wednesday. One of its key witnesses, pitcher Andy Pettitte, conceded that he may have misunderstood his former teammate as saying he used human growth hormone (HGH).

Clemens is charged with lying to Congress when he testified before a House committee that he had never used performance-enhancing drugs.

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7:19pm

Tue May 1, 2012
Law

Teammate Testifies Against Clemens In Perjury Trial

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 9:44 am

Andy Pettitte leaves the federal court in Washington, D.C., Tuesday. Pettitte took the stand in the retrial of Roger Clemens on charges that Clemens lied when he told Congress in 2008 that he had never used steroids or human growth hormone.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

If the prosecution at the Roger Clemens perjury trial hoped for a dramatic showdown on Tuesday, the day was a big disappointment. The prosecution's star witness, Clemens' friend and onetime pitching ace Andy Pettitte, provided as much, if not more, ammunition for the defense.

Clemens is charged with lying to Congress when he testified that he had never used performance-enhancing drugs.

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7:25pm

Wed April 25, 2012
Law

Immigration Brings High Drama To The High Court

Originally published on Thu April 26, 2012 7:53 am

This artist rendering shows Solicitor General Donald Verrilli speaking before the Supreme Court. Verrilli argued Wednesday that Arizona's immigration law steps into federal territory.
Dana Verkouteren AP

A majority of U.S. Supreme Court justices signaled Wednesday that they will uphold at least part of Arizona's controversial immigration law. Four provisions of the law were blocked by a federal appeals court last year, and while even some of the court's conservatives expressed skepticism about some of those provisions, a majority seemed willing to unblock the so-called "show me your papers" provisions.

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5:47pm

Tue April 24, 2012
Law

Controversial Arizona Law Reaches Supreme Court

Originally published on Wed April 25, 2012 7:10 am

Maricopa County sheriff's deputies check the shoes of a suspect arrested during a crime suppression sweep in Phoenix in 2010. Sheriff Joe Arpaio's immigration and crime sweep came after hundreds of immigrant-rights supporters delayed the effort with a rally at a downtown jail, in opposition to Arizona's immigration law SB 1070.
Ross D. Franklin AP

The U.S. Supreme Court takes up yet another incendiary election issue Wednesday when it hears arguments on a controversial Arizona law that targets illegal immigrants.

As with last month's test of the Obama health care overhaul, the case pits the federal government's assertion of power against some states, and with some exceptions, it pits Democrats against Republicans.

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6:09pm

Mon April 23, 2012
The Two-Way

Prosecutor Accuses Clemens Of 'Deceit,' 'Dishonesty'

Originally published on Tue April 24, 2012 5:49 am

Former all-star baseball pitcher Roger Clemens leaves the U.S. District Court on Monday after the first day of his perjury and obstruction trial in Washington, D.C.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

The retrial of baseball great Roger Clemens began in earnest Monday after a week of jury selection. Clemens is charged with lying in 2008 to a congressional committee when he denied ever using steroids or human growth hormone.

He will be judged by a jury of 10 women and 6 men — 12 jurors and 4 alternates — who will decide whether Clemens lied under oath about using the drugs when he testified before a congressional committee investigating the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.

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2:15pm

Wed April 18, 2012
The Two-Way

Organizations Can't Be Sued For Torture, High Court Rules

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that organizations cannot be sued for the torture under the Torture Victim Protection Act.

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2:20am

Mon April 16, 2012
Law

Clemens Faces Trial (Again) Over Doping Testimony

Originally published on Mon April 16, 2012 8:06 am

Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens stops to sign a baseball as he leaves the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., on July 14, 2011, after a judge declared a mistrial in his perjury trial.
Jonathan Ernst Reuters /Landov

Baseball star Roger Clemens goes on trial for a second time Monday on charges that he lied to a congressional committee about using steroids and human growth hormone. His trial on perjury and obstruction charges last summer ended abruptly when prosecutors mistakenly showed the jury evidence that the judge had ruled inadmissible.

Clemens won a record seven Cy Young awards during his storied pitching career, but prosecutors contend that he used steroids and human growth hormone to prolong that career.

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8:11am

Thu March 29, 2012
Judging The Health Care Law

Justices Ask: Can Health Law Stand If Mandate Falls?

Linda Dorr (left) and Keli Carender chant along with other demonstrators in front of the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
John Rose NPR

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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