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.

For the second time in as many weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court is tackling a major religion case. This time the question is whether lay teachers at parochial schools are exempt from the nation's fair employment laws.

But the court's eventual decision could reach beyond teachers, affecting the lives of millions of other employees who work for religiously affiliated institutions.

For the first time in its 231-year history, the Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments remotely by phone and made the audio available live.

The new setup went off largely without difficulties, but produced some memorable moments, including one justice forgetting to unmute and an ill-timed bathroom break.

Here are the top five can't-miss moments from this week's history-making oral arguments.

Updated at 5:11 p.m. ET

A closely divided Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a case testing Trump administration rules that cut back on access to birth control under the Affordable Care Act. The difficulty of the issues was illustrated by the fact that the arguments lasted 49 minutes longer than scheduled.

The birth-control wars return to the Supreme Court Wednesday, and it is likely that the five-justice conservative majority will make it more difficult for women to get birth control if they work for religiously affiliated institutions like hospitals, charities and universities.

The Supreme Court kicked off a second day of telephone arguments Tuesday with a case that mingles sex, the HIV/AIDS epidemic and free speech.

At issue is whether the government can require private nonprofits to denounce prostitution in order to qualify for U.S foreign aid grants aimed at fighting the worldwide AIDS epidemic. This is the second time the court has faced this issue, but this time it comes with a twist.

As new allegations emerge about his motives for retirement, Judge Thomas Griffith says that he faced no political pressure in his decision to leave the bench.

"My decision was driven entirely by personal concerns and involved no discussions with the White House or the Senate," he said in a statement provided to NPR.

The U.S. Supreme Court begins an extraordinary two weeks of oral arguments Monday. It will be the first time in history that the court has allowed livestreaming of its audio and the first time that the court is hearing arguments via telephone hookup instead of in the flesh.

The justices are trying to simulate their normal arguments as much as possible, beginning with Chief Marshal Pamela Talkin calling the court to order with a slightly modified version of her usual "Oyez, oyez, oyez ...."

After that, very little will be as usual.

Updated on Wednesday, May 13, at 3:45 p.m. ET

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Supreme Court has over two weeks heard oral arguments remotely, with audio streaming live for the public — a first for the court.

The arguments included high-profile cases about religious freedom, President Trump's financial records and the Electoral College.

For each case, both sides had the same amount of time, beginning with two minutes of uninterrupted argument. Then, each justice was allotted two minutes for questioning.

The U.S. Supreme Court has told the federal government that it has to pay $12 billion to insurance companies, money that was promised in the Affordable Care Act as part of the start-up costs of Obamacare in the first three years of its existence.

The law, as enacted, promised to limit profits and losses for insurance companies in the first three years of the Obamacare program. Some companies made more money than allowed by the formula, and had to pay some back to the government, and other companies lost money and were owed money by the government under the formula.

The U.S. Supreme Court has once again punted on the question of gun rights, throwing out as moot a challenge to New York City's strict gun regulations on transporting licensed guns outside the home.

The U.S. Supreme Court is no stranger to controversy, but it still gets higher marks in public opinion polls than the other branches of government. Now though, for the first time in memory, the court is not just split along ideological lines, but along political lines as well: All the conservatives are Republican appointees, all the liberals Democratic appointees. That division could put the court in the crosshairs of public opinion if it is forced to make decisions that affect the 2020 election.

What does the right to a unanimous jury verdict have to do with abortion, or school prayer, or federal environmental regulations? Stay tuned.

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday struck down state laws in Louisiana and Oregon that allowed people accused of serious crimes to be convicted by a non-unanimous jury vote. The 6-to-3 decision overturned a longstanding prior ruling from 1972, which had upheld such non-unanimous verdicts in state courts.

And these days, any decision to overturn a longstanding precedent rings the alarm bells in the Supreme Court.

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Governors across the country are banning elective surgery as a means of halting the spread of the coronavirus. But in a handful of states that ban is being extended to include a ban on all abortions.

So far the courts have intervened to keep most clinics open. The outlier is Texas, where the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit this week upheld the governor's abortion ban.

The U.S. Supreme Court sided with older federal workers on Monday, making it easier for those over 40 to sue for age discrimination.

The 8-to-1 ruling rejected a Trump administration position that sought to dramatically limit the legal recourse available to federal workers.

The U.S. Supreme Court has once again postponed oral arguments scheduled for this spring, but this time the court seemed to hint it might not hear arguments in most cases until next term.

Following postponement of arguments scheduled for the last two weeks of March, the court on Friday announced that it would delay another round of oral arguments — its last for the term — scheduled for the second half of April.

A recently compiled report shows that Supreme Court justices get neither big bucks nor valuable gifts when they speak at public universities. But public and press access granted by the justices is idiosyncratic.

Two justices — Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito — have limited access to their appearances, even on occasion forbidding recording of their speeches for archival purposes.

Ruling unanimously in favor of states' rights on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court said that a videographer who spent two decades documenting the salvaging of Blackbeard's ship cannot sue the state of North Carolina in federal court for using his videos without his permission.

Although the decision had more to do with mundane copyright law than the law of the high seas, it was a victory for states claiming immunity from copyright infringement lawsuits.

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There were fierce clashes at the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday and a fierce critique from Chief Justice John Roberts afterward upon learning about statements made by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer outside while the arguments were taking place inside.

Addressing a crowd of abortion-rights demonstrators, Schumer, D-N.Y., referred to the court's two Trump appointees, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, and said, "You have unleashed the whirlwind and you will pay the price. You won't know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions."

Abortion rights are on the chopping block Wednesday as the Supreme Court hears arguments in a case nearly identical to one decided just four years ago.

It's the first major abortion case to come before the court since the 2018 retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, making it the first time the majority of justices hearing an abortion case have anti-abortion-rights judicial records.

At the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, the Trump administration is seeking to make it easier for the president to call in the heads of the nation's independent agencies and say those words he was famous for on TV: "You're fired!" In particular, the administration is asking the court to restrict or reverse a decision that dates back nearly a century and that has been repeatedly reaffirmed.

In a potentially historic case, the Supreme Court heard arguments Monday on the Trump administration's policy of speeding deportations of asylum seekers without them ever having a chance to have their cases heard by a judge.

Immigration and Border Patrol issues took center stage at the U.S. Supreme Court in two cases on Tuesday.

A sharply divided court first ruled that the parents of a Mexican boy fatally shot by a U.S. Border Patrol agent cannot sue the officer who killed their son. Then, the court heard arguments in a free-speech case that will determine whether people who encourage illegal immigrants to remain in the country can be prosecuted.

Border Patrol shooting

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Updated at 8:34 p.m. ET

Like it or not, Chief Justice John Roberts finds himself drawn into impeachment controversies perhaps more than he anticipated. Over a 24-hour period, he has twice refused to put a question from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to the House impeachment managers and lawyers for President Trump.

In a case with potentially profound implications, the U.S. Supreme Court's conservative majority seemed ready to invalidate a provision of the Montana state constitution that bars aid to religious schools. A decision like that would work a sea change in constitutional law, significantly removing the longstanding high wall of separation between church and state.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday in a major case that could dramatically alter the line separating church and state.

At issue is a Montana state constitutional amendment that bars direct and indirect taxpayer aid to religious institutions. Conservative religious groups and advocates of school choice are challenging the "no-aid" provision.

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases challenging state attempts to penalize Electoral College delegates who fail to vote for the presidential candidate they were pledged to support.

Electoral College delegates are selected by each party, and under state laws, they are pledged to cast their ballots for the candidate who carries the popular vote. But from 1796 to 2016, over 20 presidential elections, 150 electors have not abided by that pledge, according to FairVote, a nonpartisan voting rights advocacy group.

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