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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4:34pm

Wed August 17, 2011
Law

In Top Court, Anticipated Health Law Review Raises Ethics Questions

In the coming term — the Supreme Court is expected to review President Obama's health care law. With that in mind, some interest groups are raising questions about the Court's ethics rules that govern when a justice should be disqualified from a case. Should Justice Clarence Thomas have to recuse himself because his wife has actively and publicly opposed the health care law? Or, should Justice Elena Kagan disqualify herself because she was a top legal official in the Obama administration when the law was enacted?

3:44pm

Mon August 15, 2011
Law

Bill Puts Ethics Spotlight On Supreme Court Justices

At times of partisan stress in American Politics, the Supreme Court often becomes part of the game, and the ethics of individual justices become a focus of criticism.

Liberal groups are leading the charge now.

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7:40pm

Thu July 14, 2011
Law

Judge Declares Mistrial In Roger Clemens Case

The perjury trial of onetime pitching ace Roger Clemens has blown up into a mistrial. On just the second day of testimony, federal Judge Reggie Walton ruled that prosecutors had indelibly tainted Clemens' ability to get a fair trial by exposing the jury to inadmissible evidence.

Still unresolved is whether prosecutors will get a second chance at making their case in front of another jury.

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6:42am

Thu July 14, 2011
Law

Prosecution: Roger Clemens Lied About Steroid Use

The seven-time Cy Young Award winner faces charges of perjury and obstruction of Congress — which carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. The prosecution says it has physical evidence against the baseball pitching star, but Clemens' attorney contends the evidence is fake.

6:53pm

Wed July 13, 2011
Law

Roger Clemens Lied About Steroid Use, Jury Told

Baseball pitching star Roger Clemens (right) walks with his attorney, Rusty Hardin, as he arrives at the U.S. District Court for the start of his perjury trial on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Baseball pitching star Roger Clemens, winner of a record seven Cy Young awards, sat silently in federal court on Wednesday, as his trial opened on charges of perjury and obstruction of Congress — charges that carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.

Clemens remained expressionless as the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Durham, told the jury that the government had physical proof that the 48-year-old one-time pitching ace had been repeatedly injected with anabolic steroids and human growth hormone.

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12:01am

Fri July 1, 2011
Law

Business, Free Speech Winners In High Court Term

The U.S. Supreme Court term that ended Monday significantly altered the nation's legal topography, making it much more difficult for people to sue big business. At the same time, the court continued its First Amendment march, making clear that at least five justices, and often more, prize the First Amendment guarantee of free speech over other constitutional values.

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12:01am

Tue June 28, 2011
Law

High Court OKs Sales Of Violent Video Game To Kids

California has lost its argument that the government should protect children from the effects of violent video games. The Supreme Court says the First Amendment protects their sale.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court, wrapping up its current term, has struck down California's ban on the sale of violent video games to children. A divided court majority said the law violates the Constitution's guarantee of free expression.

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4:00am

Fri June 24, 2011
Law

Drug Industry Wins In 2 Supreme Court Rulings

The U.S. Supreme Court handed the pharmaceutical industry two major victories on Thursday.

4:58pm

Tue June 21, 2011
Around the Nation

Sotomayor Opens Up About Diabetes

Justice Sonia Sotomayor told a group of children with type-1 diabetes about her struggles with the disease. She spoke Tuesday to the Children's Congress of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
JDRF

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a life-long diabetic, told a crowd of children with type-1 diabetes that she was 7 years old when the first hints of the disease appeared in her life. She fainted in church, was thirsty all the time, so she drank too much water and wet her bed.

"I was ashamed," the justice said in opening remarks Tuesday to the Children's Congress of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Her parents soon took her to the hospital where she was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes.

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4:00am

Tue June 21, 2011
Law

High Court Limits Wal-Mart Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has thrown out the largest sex discrimination lawsuit in American history. It was a nationwide class action lawsuit brought against Wal-Mart on behalf of 1.5 million female employees.

9:21pm

Thu June 16, 2011
Law

High Court: Age Must Be Considered In Interrogation

The U.S. Supreme Court has broadened use of the Miranda warning for suspects, extending it to children questioned by police in school. By a 5-to-4 vote, the court said for the first time on Thursday that age must be considered in determining whether a suspect is aware of his or her rights.

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3:00pm

Thu June 16, 2011
Law

Top Court Releases Options On Criminal Cases

The Supreme Court handed down opinions in a variety of criminal cases Thursday. In a unanimous ruling, the justices said judges cannot give extra jail time in hopes of rehabilitation. They also ruled on a case involving a 13-year-old boy who was questioned by police without being read his Miranda rights.

4:34am

Tue June 14, 2011
Law

High Court Upholds Nevada Ethics Law

The Supreme Court has upheld a Nevada law that bars lawmakers from voting on or even debating matters in which they have a conflict of interest. A Nevada council member had challenged the law, asserting that it prohibited his first amendment rights.

3:00pm

Mon June 13, 2011
Law

Supreme Court Upholds Nevada Ethics Law

The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously upheld a broad state ethics law, ruling that legislators have no personal, First Amendment right to vote on a measure. The decision reverses a Nevada state court ruling that would have undermined conflict-of-interest laws across the country.

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12:01am

Mon June 13, 2011
Law

Skip The Legalese And Keep It Short, Justices Say

Robyn Mackenzie iStockphoto.com

Most of the U.S. Supreme Court's work is in writing. The words on the page become the law of the land, but the justices have no uniform approach to the way they do that job. Indeed, each seems to have his or her own inspiration or pet peeve.

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2:40pm

Thu June 9, 2011
Law

Microsoft Loses Supreme Court Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a $290 million judgment against Microsoft for patent infringement. The award is the largest ever upheld on appeal in a patent case.

A small software company called i4i sued Microsoft in 2007, alleging that the industry giant had, without permission, used an editing tool patented by i4i — specifically, that the program was used in Microsoft Word 2003 and 2007. A jury ruled against Microsoft, ordering it to pay $290 million to i4i and to stop using the patented editing tool.

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6:45pm

Mon June 6, 2011
Law

Supreme Court Rules On College and Business Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court is now heading down the stretch toward the end of its current term, with major decisions still outstanding, and 27 cases overall yet to be decided. On Monday, the justices issued a variety of opinions of particular interest to the business community, and left intact a California policy that gives illegal aliens in-state college tuition benefits.

Patent ownership

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11:13am

Tue May 31, 2011
Law

Supreme Court: Ashcroft Safe From Detainee Lawsuit

An American Muslim arrested as a material witness in a terrorism case in 2003 would have to show then-Attorney General John Ashcroft was personally responsible for an infringement of the detainee's constitutional rights, including abuse in prison. A court had issued a warrant for Abdullah al-Kidd's detention.

5:52pm

Mon May 23, 2011
Law

High Court Orders Calif. To Cut Prison Population

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court has affirmed a controversial prison release order that mandates California reduce its prison population by thousands. California's prisons have long been plagued with severe overcrowding, which has resulted in inadequate health care.

12:01am

Wed May 18, 2011
Law

After Complaint, IMF Chief's Arrest Was Swift

The International Monetary Fund board is seeking to contact its managing director to hear his side of the story, but Dominique Strauss-Kahn sits in a solitary cell at Rikers Island, N.Y., isolated for his own protection, and under a routine suicide watch.

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3:00pm

Mon May 16, 2011
Law

Supreme Court OKs More Warrantless Searches

The U.S. Supreme Court has made it significantly easier for police to force their way into a home without a warrant. On Monday, the court, by an 8-1 vote, upheld the warrantless search of an apartment after police smelled marijuana and feared that those inside were destroying incriminating evidence.

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5:30pm

Thu May 12, 2011
The Two-Way

Senate Judiciary Committee OKs Obama's Solicitor General Nominee

The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved the nomination of Donald Verrilli to be the next Solicitor General of the United States, moving him one step closer to confirmation.

There was just one dissenter, Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions.

The committee's ranking Republican, Iowa's Charles Grassley, gave what he called "tepid" support to the nomination, noting that Verrilli is being nominated to an executive branch position with a limited term.

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8:26pm

Wed April 27, 2011
Law

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.

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12:01am

Wed April 27, 2011
Law

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'

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12:01am

Tue April 26, 2011
Politics

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.

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6:20pm

Mon April 25, 2011
Law

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.

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3:00pm

Tue April 19, 2011
Law

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.

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2:41pm

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.

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