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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.

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 U.S. Supreme Court divided along unusual lines Thursday to reverse the conviction of a police sergeant who used his police car computer to access and then sell a license plate number in exchange for $5,000.

The vote was 6-to-3, with the court's newest justice, Amy Coney Barrett, writing the majority opinion for herself, liberal Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan and conservative Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. The dissenters were Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, and Chief Justice John Roberts.

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.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday against warrantless searches by police and seizures in the home in a case brought by a man whose guns officers confiscated after a domestic dispute.

"The very core of the Fourth Amendment's guarantee is the right of a person to retreat into his or her home and 'there be free from unreasonable governmental intrusion,' " Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the court.

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.

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.

At the Supreme Court Monday, a case involving rich conservatives and liberals, their anonymous charitable donations, and tax breaks.

At issue is a California law, similar to laws in others states, that requires tax-exempt charities to file with the state a list of their large donors — a copy, in fact, of the list they file annually with the IRS.

Democratic members of the House and Senate Judiciary committees are asking U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett to recuse herself from participating in a case involving a conservative nonprofit with ties to a group that gave at least $1 million to fund a "national campaign" to win Senate confirmation of her Supreme Court nomination.

First Amendment groups are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to make public major decisions authorizing government surveillance, opinions that until now have remained almost secret.

For years, the ACLU and other groups have maintained that the public has a First Amendment right to see major decisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, decisions that authorize everything from surveillance of suspected spies and terrorists to metadata mining aimed at ferreting out potential terrorist plots, including those that involve contacts between foreigners and American citizens.

Liberal congressional Democrats unveiled a proposal Thursday to expand the number of seats on the U.S. Supreme Court from nine to 13 — a move Republicans have blasted as "court packing" and which has almost no chance of being voted on after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she has "no plans to bring it to the floor."

The measure, the Judiciary Act of 2021, is being co-sponsored by Reps. Jerrold Nadler, chair of the House Judiciary Committee; Hank Johnson of Georgia; Mondaire Jones of New York; and Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts.

Updated April 9, 2021 at 6:46 PM ET

President Biden signed an executive order Friday setting up a bipartisan commission that will study U.S. Supreme Court reform, and, among other things, examine the size of the court and the justices' lifetime appointments.

For the fifth time, the U.S. Supreme Court has sided with religious adherents and against California's COVID-19 restrictions. This time, the court barred the state from enforcing a rule that for now limits both religious and non-religious gatherings in homes to no more than three households.

The court's unsigned order came on a 5-4 vote. Chief Justice John Roberts cast his lot with the dissenters, but failed to join their opinion. He noted simply that he would have left the lower court order intact.

The U.S. Supreme Court handed Google a major victory Monday in a multi-billion dollar copyright dispute.

By a 6-to-2 vote, the court declared that Google did not infringe on Oracle's copyright when it used a tiny portion of Oracle's computer code lines to create a new system software for smartphones in the early 2000s.

As March Madness heads into its final days, college athletes are playing on a different kind of court: the Supreme Court. On Wednesday the justices heard arguments in a case testing whether the NCAA's limits on compensation for student athletes violate the nation's antitrust laws.

The players contend that the NCAA is operating a system that is a classic restraint of competition in violation of the federal laws barring price fixing in markets, including the labor market.

As March Madness plays out on TV, the U.S. Supreme Court takes a rare excursion into sports law Wednesday in a case testing whether the NCAA's limits on compensation for student athletes violate the nation's antitrust laws.

The outcome could have enormous consequences for college athletics.

Updated June 14, 2021 at 6:49 PM ET

Ketanji Brown Jackson, a hot prospect for nomination to the Supreme Court should a vacancy arise, has been confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals by the Senate.

President Biden announced his first judicial nominations Tuesday, including Ketanji Brown Jackson for the U.S. Court of Appeals seat vacated by Merrick Garland when he became U.S. attorney general. Jackson is considered a potential Supreme Court contender.

The U.S. Supreme Court dipped a toe into the question of police violence on Thursday, ruling that when officers fired 13 shots at a fleeing suspect, their actions were a seizure under the Constitution, entitling the suspect to sue for damages.

The vote was 5-to-3, with conservative Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joining the court's three liberals in the majority, and Justice Amy Coney Barrett not participating in the case.

The court's decision came in the case of Roxanne Torres, who sued two New Mexico state police officers for excessive force.

California's agricultural growers square off against the farmworkers union at the Supreme Court on Monday over a nearly half-century-old law stemming from the work of famed union organizer Cesar Chavez. The law, enacted in 1975, allows union organizers limited access to farms so they can seek support from workers in forming a union.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

For the first time in his nearly 16 years on the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts has filed a solo dissent. In it, he bluntly accused his colleagues of a "radical expansion" of the court's jurisdiction.

At issue was a case brought by two college students at Georgia Gwinnett College who were repeatedly blocked from making religious speeches and distributing religious literature on campus. They sued the college, claiming a violation of their First Amendment free speech rights.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday made it more difficult for undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for a long time to fight deportation. The court's 5-to-3 ruling came in the case of a man who had lived in the U.S. for 25 years but who had used a fake Social Security card to get a job as a janitor.

The U.S. Supreme Court seemed ready on Tuesday to uphold Arizona's restrictive voting laws, setting the stage for what happens in the coming months and years, as Republican-dominated state legislatures seek to make voting more difficult.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in a major voting rights case that could give state legislatures a green light to change voting laws, making it more difficult for some to vote.

Congress passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965 — a law that today is widely viewed as the most successful civil rights law in the nation's history. But in 2013, the Supreme Court gutted a key provision: no longer would state and local governments with a history of racial discrimination in voting have to get pre-clearance from the Justice Department before making changes in voting procedures.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a major case testing whether police can enter a home without a warrant when pursuing someone for a minor crime.

The case arises at a time when there are increased questions about police tactics in handling minor crimes that can escalate into major confrontations with Black and brown suspects.

Updated at 2:09 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court said it will hear a set of cases involving a Trump-era rule on abortion, giving the 6-3 conservative majority its first opportunity to weigh in on the hot-button issue. At the same time, the justices tossed out an appeal brought by former President Donald Trump, who once again was seeking to block the New York district attorney from obtaining his tax and other financial records.

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