Nina Totenberg | WYPR

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."

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.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that foreign corporations cannot be sued for damages in U.S. courts for aiding in terrorist attacks or other human-rights violations. The vote was 5-to-4.

Writing for the conservative majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said that "courts are not well suited to make the required policy judgments implicated by corporate liability in cases like this one."

Rather, the political branches, Congress and the Executive, should deal with these issues, he said.

It is rare, if not unheard of, for former intelligence experts to weigh in against the government in a major national security case. But the Trump travel ban, to be argued Wednesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, has produced an astounding and bipartisan coalition of intelligence and national security heavyweights who are urging the court to strike down the ban.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Updated at 5:15 p.m. ET

Going into Tuesday's arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court, it looked as though the court was headed toward reversing a 50-year-old decision that barred states from collecting taxes on out-of-state purchases.

But after the arguments, it looked as though a court majority just might preserve the status quo, and that would be a huge victory for online sellers.

The case presents a multibillion-dollar dispute, and the outcome will directly affect consumers, cash-strapped states and companies large and small.

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Updated at 4:10 p.m. ET

Wendy Vitter, nominated by President Trump for a federal judgeship, tried Wednesday to walk back several controversial comments she made about abortion and birth control.

The U.S. Supreme Court has again stepped into the bitter public turmoil over police shootings of civilians, ruling Monday that an Arizona police officer is shielded from being sued for shooting a woman in her own front yard.

The court said the officer acted reasonably, given that the woman, Amy Hughes, was carrying a large kitchen knife, that she was standing within striking distance of a woman who the officer did not know was Hughes' roommate, and that Hughes failed to drop the knife when ordered to do so.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

The Supreme Court justices seemed to grasp the problem of gerrymandering in oral arguments on Wednesday and that it will only get worse, as computer-assisted redistricting gets even more refined.

But they appeared frustrated over what to do about it — without becoming the constant police officer on the beat.

This case, involving a Democratic-drawn congressional district in Maryland, is essentially Act II of the gerrymandering play at the Supreme Court.

It looks like one of the marquee cases before the U.S. Supreme Court is about to go bust — sabotaged by a needle in a legislative haystack.

The question in the case is whether a U.S. technology company can refuse to honor a court-ordered U.S. search warrant seeking information that is stored at a facility outside the United States.

Oral arguments took place at the Supreme Court last month, and they did not go well for Microsoft, the tech giant that is challenging a warrant for information stored at its facility in Ireland.

The streets in Washington, D.C., were barely covered with snow Wednesday morning.

Eventually, some 3 to 5 inches accumulated. But D.C. isn't particularly known for handling inclement weather very well. It's essentially a Southern town when it comes to weather.

Most folks huddled at home, with the federal government shut down — except for essential workers. The schools announced a day early that they would shutter their doors, too.

But there was at least one place where the work went on, and it always does — the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a case with potentially broad implication, the U.S. Supreme Court has made it harder for the federal government to prosecute people for obstructing IRS enforcement of the tax code.

Federal prosecutors have for decades used a broadly written provision of the tax code to prosecute a wide variety of offenders, from those involved in major financial scams to more mundane criminals who hide their profits from tax collectors.

The provision makes it a felony to "corruptly...endeavor to obstruct or impede the due administration" of the tax code.

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Updated on March 21 at 7:35 p.m. ET

Supreme Court justices on both sides of the ideological spectrum expressed skepticism Tuesday about California's "truth-in-advertising" law requiring anti-abortion clinics to more fully disclose what they are.

The anti-abortion "crisis pregnancy centers" objected to the law on free-speech grounds.

While some more liberal justices appeared receptive to the state's case initially, doubt about the law seemed to increase as the argument progressed.

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Each of the 50 states has a law creating a campaign-free buffer zone outside polling places, laws the Supreme Court has long upheld. Today the court examined even stricter laws inside polling places. NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg reports.

Updated 6:05 p.m. ET

Every state has a law creating campaign-free buffer zones outside of polling places — laws the Supreme Court has long upheld.

On Wednesday, the justices tackled similar and even stricter laws that bar "political" apparel inside polling places.

The court did not indicate which way it was leaning in questioning Wednesday. Lawyers on both sides of the arguments were pressed hard.

Updated at 2:05 p.m. ET

It's not that uncommon to hear someone complaining that politicians are corrupt. But you wouldn't expect to be thrown in jail for it.

That's exactly what happened to Fane Lozman at a City Council meeting in Florida.

Updated at 5:11 p.m. ET

The Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday about whether emails stored overseas are subject to a U.S. warrant. It all revolved around a 1986 law, five years before the "World Wide Web" even existed.

It was the cloud and robots meet Marty McFly.

And the justices didn't seem to be buying arguments from Microsoft, an American tech company headquartered in Redmond, Wash., which is trying to protect the data.

Updated at 2:31 p.m. ET

The Supreme Court heard fiery arguments Monday in a case that could remove a key revenue stream for public sector unions.

A sharply divided court could be poised to overturn a 40-year-old Supreme Court decision that would further undermine an already shrinking union movement.

The U.S. Supreme Court began churning out opinions Wednesday, producing four decisions — as many as the justices have produced over the past 4 1/2 months combined.

The topics were varied, touching on subjects ranging from gun control to whistleblower protection and terrorism.

A "muddle" on guns?

In a week highlighted by the national gun control debate, the court ruled that a North Carolina man who pleaded guilty to illegal firearm possession may still appeal his conviction on constitutional grounds.

The U.S. Supreme Court has, once again, declined to hear a Second Amendment case, turning away a constitutional challenge to a 10-day waiting period for the purchase of guns in California. The court's decision not to hear the case came over an angry dissent from conservative Justice Clarence Thomas.

When Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg began her legal crusade, women were treated differently than men by law. By the time she first put on judicial robes she had already worked a judicial revolution.

Today the issues are both the same and different. At front and center is the question of sexual harassment.

Updated at 8 p.m. ET

The case before the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday had a surprise plot twist. Jurors were told that the accused was guilty of a triple murder — but the lawyer making that statement was not the prosecutor; he was the defense attorney.

The question before the justices was whether that violated the client's constitutional right to counsel. Justices liberal and conservative signaled that they have a problem with a lawyer who disregards his client's express wishes by conceding the defendant's guilt.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Updated at 4:53 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court appeared divided Wednesday over whether Ohio's so-called use-it-or-lose-it voter registration rule violates federal law.

Ohio, which has the most aggressive voter-purge system in the country, currently strikes voters from the registration rolls if they fail to vote in two consecutive elections — and if they fail to return a mailed address confirmation form.

They came by subway, and on foot. Two hundred forty middle and high school students from Washington, D.C., public schools. Destination: the federal courthouse at the foot of Capitol Hill. They were there to watch a re-enactment of a landmark Supreme Court case on a subject that is near and dear to their hearts — the First Amendment rights of students.

What they learned, among other things, was that history repeats itself, even in their young lives.

All eyes were on Justice Anthony Kennedy Tuesday at a riveting Supreme Court argument where the issue was whether a baker may refuse to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

At the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, the justices signaled they may be prepared to strike down the federal ban on sports betting.

Enacted 25 years ago, the law prohibits states from legalizing sports betting, except where it was already legal. That exemption applied to Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon.

But now, with estimates of illegal betting running at $150 billion annually, cash-starved states are getting itchy.

Every Supreme Court term there is at least one case that gets people's blood up. A case on which just about everyone has an opinion, often a ferocious opinion. That case comes before the justices Tuesday.

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