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.



Wed April 27, 2011

Supreme Court Imposes Limits On Class Actions

Originally published on Thu April 28, 2011 12:01 am

The U.S. Supreme Court has handed corporations a major victory. By a 5-4 vote, the court ruled Wednesday that companies can enforce contracts that bar consumers and employees from banding together to bring class action suits.

Ever read that long cell phone contract you signed when you enrolled for service? Well, look again. It likely has a provision requiring all disputes to be resolved by arbitration and barring consumers from banding together in a class action. Your credit card agreement, your cable agreement and maybe even your employment agreement have similar clauses.

Read more


Wed April 27, 2011

Supreme Court Examines State, Local Ethics Laws

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday in a case that could put a constitutional cloud of doubt over hundreds — if not thousands — of state and local ethics laws across the country.

For the first time, the justices will consider whether a legislative vote is protected by the First Amendment guarantee of free speech — specifically, whether states may forbid officeholders from voting on matters that appear to involve a personal conflict.

'I Used My Best Judgment'

Read more


Tue April 26, 2011

Supreme Court Weighs Whether To Limit Data Mining

At the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday, the justices for the first time will hear a case that tests what limits the government may put on data mining for commercial purposes. At issue is whether a state may bar the buying, selling, and profiling of doctors' prescription records for use by pharmaceutical sales representatives.

Under federal and state law, pharmacies are required to keep records of every doctor's prescription, and while patient privacy is protected by federal law, doctor privacy is not.

Read more


Mon April 25, 2011

Law Firm Drops Defense Of DOMA

The law firm hired by House Republicans to defend the federal ban on gay marriage has withdrawn from the case, prompting the partner in charge of the case to resign.

Read more


Tue April 19, 2011

Supreme Court Skeptical About Climate Change Suit

The politics of climate change hit the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday, illustrating the powerful and unpredictable role the court can play in protecting the health and safety of the nation.

Just four years ago, the justices repudiated the Bush administration and ruled 5-4 that the federal government has a duty to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. But on Tuesday, the justices gave a chilly reception to state governments that are suing electric utilities over emissions that contribute to global warming.

Read more


Mon April 18, 2011
The Two-Way

Leaving Guantanamo Chinese Muslims In Limbo, Supreme Court Refuses Case

The five remaining Chinese Muslims being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba have lost a last ditch appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. They will likely spend the rest of their lives in detention unless they agree to something they have so far resisted — resettlement outside of the United States.

The U.S. government has long conceded the men, known as Uighurs, were wrongly picked up in Pakistan after 9/11 and wrongly imprisoned at Guantanamo.

But the Uighurs could not be returned to their homes in China, where they would likely face torture or death.

Read more