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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3:51pm

Wed January 30, 2013
Books

Sotomayor's Memoir Already A Best-Seller

Originally published on Thu January 31, 2013 3:27 pm

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's memoir is riding high, topping the New York Times best-seller list in its first week of sales.

My Beloved World, Sotomayor's account of her path from the tenements of the Bronx to the U.S. Supreme Court, is on track to outdistance even the best-selling books of other justices.

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12:27am

Sun January 20, 2013
Inauguration 2013

The Presidential Oath: Not Always Perfect, But It Gets The Job Done

Originally published on Sun January 20, 2013 6:20 pm

Barack Obama takes the oath of office beside his wife Michelle and daughters Sasha, right, and Malia, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 20, 2009.
Chuck Kennedy AP

President Obama takes the oath of office for a second term on Sunday and Monday. By the time he is through Monday, he and President Franklin D. Roosevelt will be the only two presidents to have taken the presidential oath four times — Roosevelt because he was elected four times, and Obama because he will have taken the oath twice the first time and twice the second.

Obama took the oath twice in 2009 because he and Chief Justice John Roberts messed it up a bit the first time and redid it a second time in private to quell any questions about Obama being president.

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7:01am

Sat January 12, 2013
The Sotomayor Interview

Sotomayor Opens Up About Childhood, Marriage In 'Beloved World'

Originally published on Mon January 14, 2013 4:35 pm

Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor applauds during a reception in her honor at the White House.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Over the course of time, Supreme Court justices have written 225 books. Few reveal much about the justices themselves, but Justice Sonia Sotomayor's autobiography, My Beloved World, is a searingly candid memoir about her life growing up in the tenements of the Bronx, going to Princeton and Yale Law School, becoming a prosecutor and a private corporate lawyer and, at age 38, becoming a federal judge.

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7:00am

Sat January 12, 2013
The Sotomayor Interview

A Justice Deliberates: Sotomayor On Love, Health And Family

Originally published on Mon January 14, 2013 3:27 pm

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor spoke with NPR in December at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
Kainaz Amaria NPR

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor readily concedes that she was the beneficiary of affirmative action in higher education, and she doesn't really know why her view is so different from that of her colleague, Justice Clarence Thomas.

"As much as I know Clarence, admire him and have grown to appreciate him," she says, "I have never ever focused on the negative of things. I always look at the positive. And I know one thing: If affirmative action opened the doors for me at Princeton, once I got in, I did the work. I proved myself worthy. So, I don't look at how the door opened."

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3:31am

Wed January 9, 2013
Law

Can Police Force Drunken Driving Suspects To Take Blood Tests?

Originally published on Wed January 9, 2013 1:32 pm

A photographic screen hangs in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, which is undergoing renovations. On Wednesday, the justices will hear arguments in a case that asks whether police without a warrant can administer a blood test to a suspected drunken driver.
Greg E. Mathieson MAI/Landov

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday in a case testing whether police must get a warrant before forcing a drunken driving suspect to have his blood drawn.

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4:42pm

Wed December 19, 2012
It's All Politics

Robert Bork's Supreme Court Nomination 'Changed Everything, Maybe Forever'

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 8:31 pm

Robert Bork, nominated by President Reagan to the Supreme Court, is sworn in before the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation hearing, Sept. 15, 1987.
John Duricka AP

Robert Bork, whose failed Supreme Court nomination provoked a lasting partisan divide over judicial nominations, died Wednesday at age 85.

A former federal judge and conservative legal theorist, he subsequently became a hero to modern-day conservatives. And as solicitor general in the Nixon administration, he played a small but crucial role in the Watergate crisis. In what came to be known as the Saturday Night Massacre, he fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox after the attorney general and deputy attorney general refused President Nixon's firing order and quit.

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5:53pm

Fri December 7, 2012
Law

Supreme Court Takes Up Same-Sex-Marriage Cases

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 11:50 pm

Edith Windsor, 83, is asking the Supreme Court to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. When Windsor's female spouse died, the federal government, acting under DOMA, required Windsor to pay estate taxes that she would not have owed if her spouse had been a man.
Richard Drew AP

The U.S. Supreme Court announced Friday that for the first time it will tackle the issue of same-sex marriage. Defying most expectations, the justices said they will examine two cases, presenting the possibility that the court could decide all the basic issues surrounding same-sex marriage in one fell swoop.

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2:34pm

Tue November 27, 2012
Around the Nation

Kennedy Center's New Organ No Longer A Pipe Dream

Originally published on Wed November 28, 2012 9:16 am

After years of waiting, the Kennedy Center has a new symphonic organ replacing its old Filene organ. The $2 million project will culminate in the organ's debut on Nov. 27. William Neil (left), the National Symphony Orchestra organist, speaks with NSO Assistant Conductor Ankush Kumar Bahl (center) during the organ's test with the orchestra on Oct. 18.
Kainaz Amaria NPR

It was almost spooky. Each night after 11 p.m., when nothing was stirring in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, two men would enter. One would sit at the organ, playing a key or series of keys, and the other would crawl around inside the organ pipes, 40 feet off the floor. The process went on for months.

It was the all but final phase of installing a new organ for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. And on Nov. 27, the organ makes its formal debut.

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5:16am

Mon November 26, 2012
The Two-Way

Supreme Court To Look At Who Is A 'Supervisor' In Harassment Cases

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 9:44 am

The U.S. Supreme Court this week takes up the question of who qualifies as a supervisor when the issue is harassment in the workplace. The court's answer to that question could significantly restrict employer liability in racial and sexual harassment cases, or, in the view of some business organizations, it could result in frivolous litigation.

The facts of the particular case before the court Monday are, to say the least, in dispute.

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5:54pm

Wed October 31, 2012
Law

Drug-Sniffing Dogs Take Center Stage At High Court

Originally published on Wed October 31, 2012 6:53 pm

Miami-Dade Detective Douglas Bartelt and narcotics detector canine Franky give a demonstration in Miami in 2011.
Alan Diaz AP

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in two cases Wednesday testing what, if any, limits there are to the police using drug-sniffing dogs. By the close of two hours of argument, it looked very much as though the court would rule against the use of drug-sniffing dogs without a warrant in one case, but not the other.

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