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.

Pages

4:12pm

Fri August 17, 2012
Law

When Pronouncing A Case Is Harder Than 'Roe V. Wade'

Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 6:03 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. Now, a story about Supreme Court cases and how you pronounce their names. Some are easy enough, like Roe V. Wade, but others aren't so clear cut. Is it Bachy or Bachy, Padilla or Padilla? Many a case name has been mangled, so as we hear from NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg, law professor Eugene Fidell set out to set the record straight.

Read more

6:35pm

Wed July 25, 2012
It's All Politics

Interviewing Scalia: Verbal Wrestling Match With A Master

Originally published on Thu July 26, 2012 2:31 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.

Read more

4:44am

Wed July 25, 2012
Law

Justice Scalia Disputes Accuracy Of 'Leak'

Originally published on Wed July 25, 2012 7:02 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.

Read more

2:33pm

Sun July 22, 2012
The Two-Way

Obama's Judicial Nominees Face Slowed Confirmation Process

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.

Read more

4:06pm

Mon July 16, 2012
Law

Even Scalia's Dissenting Opinions Get Major Scrutiny

Originally published on Mon July 16, 2012 10:01 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.

Read more

3:26am

Fri July 6, 2012
Law

Supreme Court Has A Term To Remember, Not Expect

Originally published on Mon July 30, 2012 9:20 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.

Read more

5:46pm

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 11:12 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.

Read more

7:06pm

Tue July 3, 2012
It's All Politics

Did Roberts Flip On The Health Care Decision?

Originally published on Wed July 4, 2012 2:00 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.

Read more

5:00am

Fri June 29, 2012
Law

Chief Justice Robert's Vote Saves Health Care Law

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 6:44 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.

Read more

6:09pm

Thu June 28, 2012
Law

Tight Court Decision Produces Explosion Of Emotion

Originally published on Fri June 29, 2012 10:45 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.

Read more

Pages