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.

The U.S. Supreme Court sided with Germany on Wednesday in a dispute over artworks obtained by the Nazis from German Jewish collectors in 1935. The court unanimously rejected a lower court ruling that had allowed the heirs of the onetime owners to proceed with their claim that the sale had been coerced.

At the center of the case is the Guelph Treasure, one of the most famous collections of medieval artifacts in existence. Now valued at $250 million, it has long been on display in a German state museum in Berlin.

Updated on Wednesday at 4:45 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court, at the Biden administration's urging, canceled two arguments on a pair of Trump-era immigration cases: one was related to funding for the border wall and other concerned the "remain in Mexico" policy."

The move comes two days after the Biden administration asked the court to delay consideration of the major cases that were scheduled for oral argument in the coming weeks.

The Biden administration faces some tough choices in the coming weeks over how it should deal with the Supreme Court.

The justices have already heard arguments or agreed to hear them in more than 60 cases this term. In most of these cases, the Trump administration has already taken a position on behalf of the U.S. government. While the Biden administration may oppose many of the Trump positions, it knows that the justices do not look kindly on the government flip-flopping.

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With pressure mounting on President Trump, there's a new focus on a question that has come up since Day 1 of the Trump administration. Can he pardon himself? NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg reports.

For the first time in nearly a half century, there is a six-justice conservative supermajority on the U.S. Supreme Court — six justices with clearly expressed views against abortion rights. So, will a woman's constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy soon be a thing of the past?

In January, the U.S. Supreme Court embarks on the second half of a term with a fortified 6-to-3 conservative majority. But unlike the first half of the term, there will be no norm-busting President Trump often railing at the court's election decisions. In tone, President Biden probably will be the functional opposite, but his policies are likely to be greeted with more skepticism.

The U.S. Supreme Court announced Wednesday that it would review a case testing whether the NCAA's limits on compensation for student athletes violate the nation's antitrust laws.

The court will not hear arguments in the case until after the new year, but the outcome, expected by the end of June, could have enormous consequences for college athletics.

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Updated at 2:43 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a unanimous opinion, ruled Thursday that Muslims put on the no-fly list after refusing to act as informants can sue federal officials for money damages under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The case – Tanzin v. Tanvir — involved three Muslim men who said their religious freedom rights were violated when FBI agents tried to use the no-fly list to force them into becoming informants.

Jed Leiber remembers playing chess with his grandfather when he was a boy, and learning about all that Saemy Rosenberg had left behind behind when he fled Germany in the 1930s.

"I made a promise to myself that one day I would find everything that was taken from him and have it returned," Leiber says.

So Leiber was listening intently on Monday when the justices dealt with his grandfather's famous art collection and its coerced sale to the Nazis. It was not the first time the court has dealt with the Nazis theft of important works of art.

Is a non-unanimous jury verdict in a criminal case ever constitutional?

Just months ago, the Supreme Court ruled for the first time that such verdicts violate the Sixth Amendment's right to a jury trial. But the 6-3 decision applied only to future cases. The justices, apparently divided at the time over whether the decision should apply to past cases, left that question for another day.

Federal Judge Esther Salas is on a crusade.

In July her husband and their son were gunned down at the family's home in New Jersey. Her husband survived. Her son did not.

On Friday, she will attend the New Jersey governor's signing of a new state law that makes it a crime to publish online or elsewhere personal addresses and telephone information about state judges or their families. Salas will be there even though the law protects only state judges, not federal judges, because the law is named after her son, Daniel.

'Gruesome'

Updated at 4:35 p.m.

The Supreme Court, with a newly constituted and far more conservative majority, took another look at Obamacare on Tuesday. But at the end of the day, even with three Trump appointees, the Affordable Care Act looked as though it may well survive.

To many, it may have seemed like déjà vu.

Obamacare is back before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, with opponents challenging it for a third time. The first attempts to derail the law failed in the high court by votes of 5-to-4 and 6-to-3. But the makeup of the court is very different now, with three justices appointed by President Trump – among them new Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Before her nomination, Barrett consistently criticized the court's two previous decisions, a critique that Senate Democrats repeatedly bludgeoned her with at her confirmation hearings.

Elections come and go, but Supreme Court decisions can last forever. One of those potentially pivotal cases is before the court Wednesday. A case both poignant and profound, it pits the rights of a city to enforce its anti-discrimination policies in contracting against the rights of religious groups.

Updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

Senate Democrats say they plan to boycott Thursday's scheduled vote on the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court has sided with Alabama state officials who banned curbside voting intended to accommodate individuals with disabilities and those at risk from the COVID-19 virus.

The high court issued its order Wednesday night, without explanation, over the dissent of the court's three liberal justices.

At issue was the decision by the Alabama secretary of state to ban counties from allowing curbside voting, even for those voters with disabilities and those for whom COVID-19 is disproportionately likely to be fatal.

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Joining us now is NPR's legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg.

Nina, welcome back.

NINA TOTENBERG, BYLINE: Hi.

Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito issued a broadside against the high court's 2015 same-sex marriage decision on Monday when the court declined to hear a case brought by a former Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue a marriage license for such couples.

The U.S. Supreme Court opens a new court term Monday, while across the street at the Capitol, Republicans are seeking to jam through, before the Nov. 3 election, President Trump's nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the court.

Trump offered Barrett the nomination just two days after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. And since then, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has been leading the GOP charge to get Barrett confirmed before Election Day.

President Trump's nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court seat made vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is seen as a home run for conservatives. It is a chance to move the high court in a far more aggressively conservative direction for generations.

In political terms, Barrett is the dream candidate for conservative Republicans and the nightmare candidate for Democrats.

For Republicans, the 48-year-old is a young and personally unassailable nominee.

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Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's chair on the U.S. Supreme Court bench and the bench directly in front of it have been draped with black wool crepe in memoriam.

In addition, a black drape has been hung over the courtroom doors. According to the Supreme Court, this tradition dates back at least as far as the death of Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase in 1873. It is believed to have been followed since, after the death of each sitting justice.

The court has also announced that the flags on the Supreme Court's front plaza will be flown at half-staff for 30 days.

The U.S. Supreme Court has left in place a lower court order that likely will prevent hundreds of thousands of felons in Florida from voting in the November election. It is the fourth time that the court has refused to intervene to protect voting rights this year.

The others instances came in cases from Wisconsin, Alabama and Texas, and the court overruled lower court decisions that sought to allow more absentee voting during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Florida case is particularly fraught with partisan overtones.

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 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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