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.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Updated July 1, 2021 at 4:37 PM ET

The U.S. Supreme Court Thursday gutted most of what remains of the landmark Voting Rights Act. The court's decision, while leaving some protections involving redistricting in place, left close to a dead letter the law once hailed as the most effective civil rights legislation in the nation's history.

The 6-3 vote was along ideological lines, with Justice Samuel Alito writing the decision for the court's conservative majority, and the liberals in angry dissent.

Updated June 23, 2021 at 4:48 PM ET

In a victory for student speech rights, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that a former cheerleader's online F-bombs about her school is protected speech under the First Amendment.

Updated June 24, 2021 at 7:41 AM ET

The Supreme Court on Wednesday tightened the leash on union representatives and their ability to organize farmworkers in California and elsewhere.

At issue in the case was a California law that allows union organizers to enter farms to speak to workers during nonworking hours — before and after work, as well as during lunch — for a set a number of days each year.

Updated June 23, 2021 at 12:31 PM ET

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police cannot always enter a home without a warrant when pursuing someone for a minor crime.

The court sent the case back to the lower court to decide if the police violated the rights of a California man by pursuing him into his garage for allegedly playing loud music while driving down a deserted two-lane highway late at night.

Updated June 21, 2021 at 5:45 PM ET

Faced with the prospect of reshaping college athletics, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a narrow but potentially transformative ruling Monday in a case that pitted college athletes against the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

At issue in the case were NCAA rules that limit educational benefits for college players as part of their scholarships.

Updated June 17, 2021 at 5:04 PM ET

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday sided with Catholic Social Services in a battle that pitted religious freedom against anti-discrimination laws in Philadelphia and across the country. The court declared that the private Catholic agency was entitled to renewal of its contract with the city for screening foster parents, even though the agency violated city law by refusing to consider married LGBTQ couples.

Updated June 17, 2021 at 5:05 PM ET

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act for the third time on Thursday, leaving in place the broad provisions of the law enacted by Congress in 201o. The vote was 7 to 2.

The opinion, written by Justice Stephen Breyer, was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that some crack cocaine offenders sentenced to harsh prison terms more than a decade ago cannot get their sentences reduced under a federal law adopted with the purpose of doing just that.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to consider a challenge to the men-only military draft.

In an accompanying statement, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Brett Kavanaugh acknowledged that when the draft was originally enacted, women were not eligible for combat roles, a situation that has dramatically changed in modern times.

The Supreme Court's three liberal justices strongly dissented Monday when the court's six-member conservative majority refused to hear an appeal brought by a brain-damaged death row inmate who wants to be executed by firing squad.

Lawyers for convicted killer Ernest Johnson told the court that if Missouri executes him by lethal injection, using the drug pentobarbital, he will suffer "excruciatingly painful" seizures, so painful it would violate the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Updated May 17, 2021 at 6:14 PM ET

With Roe v. Wade hanging by a thread, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider a major rollback of abortion rights.

It is the second time in weeks that the court's new conservative majority has signaled a willingness to reconsider long-established legal doctrine, this time on abortion, and just weeks ago, on guns.

Facing its biggest student speech case in a half-century, the Supreme Court seemed to be looking for a narrow exit door on Wednesday.

At issue was whether schools may punish students for speech that occurs online and off-campus but that may affect school order.

The case has been billed as the most important student speech case since 1969. That landmark ruling came at the height of the Vietnam War. Mary Beth Tinker and four other students went to court after they were suspended for wearing black armbands to school to protest the war.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Even Supreme Court advocates can look at a case before the court with their own teenage years in mind. And lawyer Gregory Garre sums up Wednesday's case this way: "Mean girls meet the First Amendment."

More than a half-century ago, the court, in a 7-to-2 vote, ruled that students do have free speech rights at school, unless the speech is disruptive. Now, the justices are being asked to clarify whether, in the internet age, schools can punish students for off-campus speech.

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