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.

Jazz great Wynton Marsalis, a virtuoso trumpet player and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, has written — wait for it — a violin concerto.

As the daughter of the late virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg, I was intrigued and wanted to know more. So I spent an hour with Marsalis — and the violinist he wrote his concerto with and for. (More on that later.)

At the Supreme Court on Monday, the justices heard arguments in the case of a girl with disabilities, her service dog and the school that barred the dog from the premises.

Ehlena Fry was born with cerebral palsy, which significantly limits her mobility but not her cognitive skills. So when she was about to enter kindergarten in Napoleon, Mich., her parents got a trained service dog — a white furry goldendoodle, named Wonder.

While political Washington is in a tizzy about the election and what it portends for the Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is prepping for her operatic debut in Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti's "The Daughter of the Regiment."

For one night in November, the diminutive legal diva will play the nonsinging role of the Duchess of Krakenthorp, a character akin to the dowagers in Marx Brothers movies.

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has expanded on her statement, apologizing for her critical comments about Donald Trump. In an interview with NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg, Ginsburg sought to put the controversy behind her.

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It was April 15, 2009, in the depths of the financial crisis. Elizabeth Warren was backstage at The Daily Show, about to make her national TV debut, but her head was not in the clouds.

It was in the toilet. She was throwing up.

"I had stage fright — gut-wrenching, stomach-turning, bile-filled stage fright," she would later write.

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Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland finally got a hearing in Washington on Wednesday. Not from the U.S. Senate, but from the fifth grade graduating class at J.O. Wilson Elementary School, where Garland has tutored students for 18 years.

His testimony, as it were, was in the form of a commencement address, and he was almost as emotional as he was at the White House when he was nominated for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

"You know, I like my job, but my favorite days are when I come to J.O. Wilson, and get high-fives walking down the hall," he began.

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The U.S. Supreme Court, without hearing oral argument, has unanimously reversed an Alabama Supreme Court ruling that denied parental rights to a lesbian adoptive mother who had split with her partner. The decision is a direct repudiation of an Alabama Supreme Court decision that refused to recognize a Georgia adoption.

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Even Atonin Scalia's ideological opponents - in fact, maybe especially his opponents - acknowledged that the late Supreme Court justice changed the nation's conversation about the Constitution.

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Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly on Saturday. We spoke to NPR's Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg about his life, legacy and what's next.

1. Let's talk about Scalia's legal perspective. He was known as a proponent of originalism. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Originalism, as defined by Justice Scalia and others, is that what is in the Constitution literally is what the founding fathers meant.

A nearly unanimous Supreme Court Wednesday reinstated death sentences for three convicted Kansas murderers. The decision cast doubt on the impression that a majority of the justices might now be willing to strike down capital punishment in its entirety.

The litigants in the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday were a remarkable bunch: On one side, the Central Bank of Iran. On the other, the victims of Iran-sponsored terrorist attacks going back three decades.

The constitutional question: Whether Congress — in dealing with both — had infringed on the independence of the judiciary.

The Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a case testing whether the government can freeze a defendant's legitimately obtained assets, thus preventing the accused from hiring a lawyer.

Sila Luis, the owner of Miami home health care companies, was indicted on Medicare fraud charges in 2012. She has been detained at her home for two years while her case wended its way to the Supreme Court. She wants to use some of her assets to hire a lawyer for her trial.

Retroactivity sounds like a really boring legal subject. Until you learn that some 2,000 people serving terms of life without parole could have a shot at release if the Supreme Court rules that a 2012 decision is retroactive.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in a case that could determine the fate of more than 2,000 convicted juvenile murderers.

In 2012, the high court struck down as unconstitutional state laws that mandated an automatic sentence of life without any possibility of parole in these cases. The question now is whether that decision applies retroactively.

The death penalty reared its head again at the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday. It was the first time the court publicly considered a death case since last term, when a constitutional challenge to lethal injection procedures erupted into a rare, nasty and vituperative debate among the justices. This time, the issues were far more technical but still a matter of life and death.

One of the more unattractive aspects of Washington life is the growth industry called line sitting. That is, rich lobbyists, lawyers and contractors pay someone to hold a place in line so the payer can get a much-in-demand seat at a Supreme Court argument or a congressional hearing. Now the U.S. Supreme Court has quietly struck one small blow for equality on that front. It has amended its rules to require that there are no sitters on the special line reserved for members of the Supreme Court bar.

The United States Supreme Court opens a new term Monday, and, as always, many of the most contentious issues facing the country — including abortion, birth control coverage, public employee unions, affirmative action in higher education, voter participation — are likely to be before the court.

But there is a difference this term. Chief Justice John Roberts, despite his overall conservative record on the bench, has become a punching bag for candidates vying for the Republican presidential nomination.

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