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.

In 1971, newly assigned to cover the Supreme Court, I was reading a brief in what would ultimately be the landmark case of Reed v. Reed. It argued that the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause applied to women. I didn't understand some of the brief, so I flipped to the front to see who the author was, and I placed a call to Rutgers law professor Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Follow NPR's coverage of Ginsburg's death and the political aftermath here.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the demure firebrand who in her 80s became a legal, cultural and feminist icon, died Friday. The Supreme Court announced her death, saying the cause was complications from metastatic cancer of the pancreas.

The court, in a statement, said Ginsburg died at her home in Washington, D.C., surrounded by family. She was 87.

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All right, amid the uproar over the president's pandemic response, a new item appeared on the White House schedule yesterday, and it was very clearly a change of subject.

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Voting rights advocates are batting 0-4 at the U.S. Supreme Court so far this year.

A record number of election-related lawsuits are piling up in courts around the country as concerns mount about the safety of voting in person because of the coronavirus and the availability and reliability of voting by mail. With a pandemic raging and uncertainty brewing, some fear the Supreme Court's chilly attitude toward election lawsuits may add yet another obstacle to a free and fair election in November.

Supreme Court declines to intervene

Updated at 3:34 p.m. ET

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says that her cancer has returned and that chemotherapy is yielding positive results. In a statement, she said that her most recent scan, on July 7, "indicated significant reduction of the liver lesions and no new disease."

The recently concluded Supreme Court term was remarkable for many reasons. But for SCOTUS geeks who love numbers, it's worth looking at how the conservatives often split among themselves, while the liberal justices, understanding that they are playing defense, stuck together far more often, refusing to dilute the outcome of their victories by disagreeing with one another.

In all, the four hard-line conservatives wrote way more separate opinions.

Pamela Talkin had been at the Supreme Court in the top security job for less than two months when 9/11 hit. Her first task that morning was to evacuate the building, but Chief Justice William Rehnquist didn't know a terrorist attack was in progress, and he was presiding over an important meeting with chief judges from around the country. When a note Talkin sent in got no response, she walked into the room and ordered everyone out of the building, fast.

A momentous Supreme Court term is over. The last strokes of the pen were devoted to repudiating President Trump's claim that he is categorically immune from state grand jury and congressional subpoenas.

But the term also featured just about every flashpoint in American law — including abortion, religion, immigration and much more.

Here are six takeaways:

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Updated at 8:15 p.m. ET

In a pair of historic rulings, the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected President Trump's claim of absolute immunity under the law. The vote was 7 to 2 in two decisions Thursday involving grand jury and congressional subpoenas for Trump's pre-presidential financial records.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the court's two decisions, declaring, "In our system, the public has a right to every man's evidence," and "since the founding of the Republic, every man has included the President of the United States."

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Updated at 6:44 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court has carved out a major exception to the nation's fair employment laws. In a 7-2 vote, the court ruled on Wednesday that the country's civil rights laws barring discrimination on the job do not apply to most lay teachers at religious elementary schools.

Updated at 12:32 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court has made it more difficult for women to get access to birth control as part of their health plans if their employer has religious or moral objections to contraceptives.

The opinion upheld a Trump administration rule that significantly cut back on the Affordable Care Act requirement that insurers provide free birth control coverage as part of almost all health care plans.

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Updated at 5:40 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously upheld laws across the country that remove or punish rogue Electoral College delegates who refuse to cast their votes for the presidential candidate they were pledged to support.

The decision Monday was a loss for "faithless electors," who argued that under the Constitution they have discretion to decide which candidate to support.

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Thursday to hear arguments this fall in a case that pits the Trump administration against the House Judiciary Committee and its efforts to see redacted portions of report on Russian interference prepared by special prosecutor Robert Mueller. The decision is a significant blow to House Democrats' efforts to see the material before the November election.

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Updated at 5:53 p.m. ET

In a major victory for what advocates call the school choice movement, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively killed state constitutional provisions in as many as 38 states that bar taxpayer aid to parochial schools. The vote was 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts writing the decision for the court's conservative justices.

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Updated at 12:28 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the president can fire at will the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau but left intact the rest of the statute that created the agency. Congress created the independent agency in 2010 to protect consumers from abuses in the banking and financial services industry that led to the 2008 financial meltdown.

Updated at 5:35 p.m.

A sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court stood by its most recent abortion-rights precedent Monday, delivering a major defeat to abortion opponents who had hoped for a reversal of fortunes at the court with the addition of two new Trump-appointed justices.

By a 5-4 vote, the court struck down a Louisiana law that was virtually identical to a Texas law it invalidated just four years ago. Chief Justice John Roberts cast the fifth and decisive vote.

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Twice this week, the Supreme Court thrilled liberals and infuriated conservatives with its decisions, putting the spotlight once again on the man in the center chair, Chief Justice John Roberts. NPR's legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg reports.

Updated at 6:35 p.m. ET

In a major rebuke to President Trump, the U.S. Supreme Court has blocked the administration's plan to dismantle an Obama-era program that has protected 700,000 so-called DREAMers from deportation. The vote was 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts writing the opinion.

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