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.

A recently compiled report shows that Supreme Court justices get neither big bucks nor valuable gifts when they speak at public universities. But public and press access granted by the justices is idiosyncratic.

Two justices — Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito — have limited access to their appearances, even on occasion forbidding recording of their speeches for archival purposes.

Ruling unanimously in favor of states' rights on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court said that a videographer who spent two decades documenting the salvaging of Blackbeard's ship cannot sue the state of North Carolina in federal court for using his videos without his permission.

Although the decision had more to do with mundane copyright law than the law of the high seas, it was a victory for states claiming immunity from copyright infringement lawsuits.

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There were sharp words at the U.S. Senate today.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MITCH MCCONNELL: No matter the intention, words carrying the apparent threat of violence can have horrific unintended consequences.

There were fierce clashes at the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday and a fierce critique from Chief Justice John Roberts afterward upon learning about statements made by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer outside while the arguments were taking place inside.

Addressing a crowd of abortion-rights demonstrators, Schumer, D-N.Y., referred to the court's two Trump appointees, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, and said, "You have unleashed the whirlwind and you will pay the price. You won't know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions."

Abortion rights are on the chopping block Wednesday as the Supreme Court hears arguments in a case nearly identical to one decided just four years ago.

It's the first major abortion case to come before the court since the 2018 retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, making it the first time the majority of justices hearing an abortion case have anti-abortion-rights judicial records.

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created with the aim of protecting consumers from abuses in the banking and financial services industry. Today at the Supreme Court, the court's conservative justices voiced skepticism about the independent agency. NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg has more.

At the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, the Trump administration is seeking to make it easier for the president to call in the heads of the nation's independent agencies and say those words he was famous for on TV: "You're fired!" In particular, the administration is asking the court to restrict or reverse a decision that dates back nearly a century and that has been repeatedly reaffirmed.

In a potentially historic case, the Supreme Court heard arguments Monday on the Trump administration's policy of speeding deportations of asylum seekers without them ever having a chance to have their cases heard by a judge.

Immigration and Border Patrol issues took center stage at the U.S. Supreme Court in two cases on Tuesday.

A sharply divided court first ruled that the parents of a Mexican boy fatally shot by a U.S. Border Patrol agent cannot sue the officer who killed their son. Then, the court heard arguments in a free-speech case that will determine whether people who encourage illegal immigrants to remain in the country can be prosecuted.

Border Patrol shooting

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Updated at 8:34 p.m. ET

Like it or not, Chief Justice John Roberts finds himself drawn into impeachment controversies perhaps more than he anticipated. Over a 24-hour period, he has twice refused to put a question from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to the House impeachment managers and lawyers for President Trump.

In a case with potentially profound implications, the U.S. Supreme Court's conservative majority seemed ready to invalidate a provision of the Montana state constitution that bars aid to religious schools. A decision like that would work a sea change in constitutional law, significantly removing the longstanding high wall of separation between church and state.

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The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday in a major case that could dramatically alter the line separating church and state.

At issue is a Montana state constitutional amendment that bars direct and indirect taxpayer aid to religious institutions. Conservative religious groups and advocates of school choice are challenging the "no-aid" provision.

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases challenging state attempts to penalize Electoral College delegates who fail to vote for the presidential candidate they were pledged to support.

Electoral College delegates are selected by each party, and under state laws, they are pledged to cast their ballots for the candidate who carries the popular vote. But from 1796 to 2016, over 20 presidential elections, 150 electors have not abided by that pledge, according to FairVote, a nonpartisan voting rights advocacy group.

There were some acerbic and personal comments from the justices of the Supreme Court on Wednesday, as they heard an age discrimination case that could affect more than a million federal workers over the age of 40.

The federal law says that "all personnel decisions" made in the federal workforce "shall be made free from age discrimination."

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has long interpreted that to mean that if a federal worker can show that age was a factor in denying her a job or promotion, the worker is entitled to back pay or other remedies.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday weighed whether to make life more difficult for prosecutors in public corruption cases.

The modern-day court has made it increasingly difficult to prosecute public officials who abuse their power but don't personally enrich themselves. The court has thrown out multiple public corruption convictions in recent years, all but eviscerating broad statutes aimed at ensuring the honest services of public employees.

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"Bridgegate" was the political scandal that marked the beginning of the end of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's presidential hopes. The scandal's legal consequences could prove more consequential if, as prosecutors fear, the criminal convictions in the case are thrown out by the Supreme Court.

On Tuesday, the justices will revisit the case that made headlines in 2013 on the first day of school when, unbeknownst to the public, officials close to Christie ordered the shutdown of two of three access lanes from Fort Lee onto the George Washington Bridge.

When the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump opens, the man in the center chair will be Chief Justice John Roberts. His role is spelled out in the Constitution.

Twenty-one years ago Thursday, as the House approved articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott was sitting in his study in Pascagoula, Miss., "looking out on a beautiful live oak tree." With a sigh, the Republican leader picked up the phone to call Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, his Democratic counterpart.

"Whether we like it or not, this is sitting in our lap," he told Daschle, "and we've got to figure out how to deal with it."

Lott was a skilled vote-counter.

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Only three times in American history has the House of Representatives impeached a president - one in the 19th century, one in the 20th century, now one in the 21st. But the last time was recent enough for NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg to remember.

The U.S. Supreme Court examined Obamacare for the fifth time on Tuesday, only this time the justices cast their skeptical gaze on Republican efforts to hobble the law.

Enacted by a Democrat-controlled Congress in 2010, the Affordable Care Act promised to partially reimburse insurers if they lost money by covering people with preexisting conditions. The law said that the government "shall" make these payments. But in 2015, Republicans, by then in control of both houses of Congress, attached riders to appropriations bills barring the use of the money for the promised payments.

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The arc of partisanship in impeachment, to some extent, matches the increased polarization of politics in America over the last 45 years. It moves from consensus to deadlock.

When the House Judiciary Committee votes on articles of impeachment against President Trump, the vote is expected to be along purely partisan lines — a far cry from the committee impeachment vote against President Richard Nixon in 1974, and different too from the President Bill Clinton's impeachment in 1998.

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For the first time in 10 years, the U.S. Supreme Court has heard a major gun-rights case. But the drumroll of anticipation seemed to fade, as the debate in the high court Monday focused almost exclusively on whether the case should be dismissed as moot.

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