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 at 12:08 p.m. ET

In a case with consequences for fans of wine and liquor, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, has struck down a two-year residency requirement for anyone seeking an initial license to operate a liquor store in Tennessee.

There is no doubt that if a state had such a restrictive provision involving the sale of any other product, it would be deemed a violation of the Constitution's ban on erecting barriers to interstate commerce.

Updated at 6:55 p.m. ET Tuesday

The U.S. Supreme Court ordered documents unsealed Monday in a death penalty case out of Alabama after a motion was filed by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and NPR.

The blacked-out information, a rarity for the Supreme Court, involves the drugs and protocol Alabama uses for executions.

Updated at 8:19 p.m. ET

In a win for advocates of free speech, the Supreme Court has struck down a ban on trademarking words and symbols that are "immoral" or "scandalous." The 6-3 decision is also a victory for those seeking trademark protection for profane and even racist brand names.

The case was brought by clothing designer Erik Brunetti, who sought to trademark the phrase FUCT. The decision paves the way for him to get his brand trademarked.

A sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that property owners can go directly to federal court with claims that state and local regulations effectively deprive landowners of the use of their property.

The 5-4 decision overturned decades of precedent that barred property owners from going to federal court until their claims had been denied in state court.

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Updated at 5:45 p.m. ET

The Supreme Court has struck down the conviction of an African American death row inmate who was prosecuted six times for the same crime and by the same prosecutor, a man with a history of racial bias in jury selection.

Lost in the shuffle Thursday at the Supreme Court — with the major decision released in a separation of church and state case dominating — was another ruling that could, at some point, have wide ramifications for how American government functions.

The court ruled that Congress did not overstep its authority in handing off important power to the attorney general under the federal Sex Offender Registration Act, or SORNA.

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Updated at 9:04 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a 40-foot World War I memorial cross can stay on public land at a Maryland intersection.

With less than two weeks left in the U.S. Supreme Court's term, the justices handed down four decisions on Monday. Defying predictions, three were decided by shifting liberal-conservative coalitions.

Here, in a nutshell, are the results, as well as the fascinating shifting votes:

Dual sovereignty upheld, with Ginsburg, Gorsuch dissenting

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from a Yemeni prisoner held without charge at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for more than 17 years.

But Justice Stephen Breyer, in a two-page "statement" called attention to the case, declaring that it is "past time" to examine the indefinite detention of prisoners there.

"In my judgment," Breyer wrote, "it is past time to confront the difficult questions" left open.

The state of Alabama executed convicted murderer Christopher Price last week, just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to grant a stay of execution.

The action was not particularly unusual except for one thing — half of the briefs in the case were blacked out, so the public could not see them, and virtually all of the record in the case was sealed.

Updated at 2:10 p.m. ET

The Supreme Court is leaving in place part of an Indiana law that mandates that aborted fetuses be buried or cremated.

The court did not take up a second part of the law that banned abortions because of fetal abnormality, the fetus's race, sex or ancestry. A lower court struck down that part of the law in addition to the burial provision. The Supreme Court, though, said it will wait for other lower court rulings before weighing in on the fetal characteristics provision.

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The bitter battle over the death penalty continued Monday at the U.S. Supreme Court with the highly unusual release of explanatory statements from the court's conservatives as to why they reached such apparently contradictory decisions in two death cases in February and March.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that a major antitrust lawsuit against Apple over its App Store can move forward. The 5-to-4 ruling immediately plunged Apple's stock prices and opened the door to the possibility of enormous future damages against the company.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, appointed by President Trump last year, wrote the decision for himself and the court's four liberal justices. In it, he stressed that the court majority was taking no position on the merits of the lawsuit but said that under long-standing precedent the suit could proceed to its next stages.

When you interview a 99-year-old Supreme Court justice, one who has written some of the landmark opinions of modern times, you don't imagine in advance that the subplot of the interview is going to be Ping-Pong.

But in a conversation with retired Justice John Paul Stevens, his racket skills came up almost immediately.

Updated April 25 at 5:28 p.m. ET

The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court appear split along ideological lines on whether a citizenship question can be included on forms for the upcoming 2020 census.

Based on their questions during Tuesday's oral arguments at the high court, the justices appear ready to vote 5-4 to allow the Trump administration to add the hotly contested questions to forms for next year's national head count.

Dirty words make it to the U.S. Supreme Court only occasionally. One of those occasions came Monday, in a case involving a clothing line named "FUCT."

The issue is whether the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office acted unconstitutionally when it refused to grant trademark protection to the brand name.

And, for the justices, the immediate problem was how to discuss the the F-word without actually saying it.

The "FUCT" clothing line, created by designer Eric Brunetti, is mainly hoodies, loose pants, shorts and T-shirts, all with the brand name prominently displayed.

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Updated 12:59 p.m. ET

A closely divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that a death row inmate with a rare medical condition is not entitled to an alternative method of execution just because the one the state uses could cause him several minutes of great pain and suffering.

Two Supreme Court decisions just hours before a scheduled execution. Two decisions just seven weeks apart. Two decisions on the same issue. Except that in one, a Muslim was put to death without his imam allowed with him in the execution chamber, and in the other, a Buddhist's execution was temporarily halted because his Buddhist minister was denied the same right.

The two apparently conflicting decisions are so puzzling that even the lawyers are scratching their heads and offering explanations that they candidly admit are only speculative.

The Supreme Court appeared sharply divided on the question of whether there's any limit on what the courts can impose on partisan redistricting, also known as gerrymandering, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the newest member of the court, appearing at least somewhat conflicted.

"I took some of your argument in the briefs and the amicus briefs to be that extreme partisan gerrymandering is a real problem for our democracy," Kavanaugh told the lawyers arguing the case, "and I'm not going to dispute that."

Partisan gerrymandering is back at the U.S. Supreme Court.

A year and a pivotal justice's retirement after the high court dodged the question, those seeking to break the political stranglehold over legislative redistricting are urging the justices to draw a line beyond which the Republican and Democratic parties cannot go in entrenching their political power, sometimes for decades at a time.

The U.S. Supreme Court signaled strongly on Wednesday that it is likely to rule for a death row inmate in Mississippi who was prosecuted six times for the same crime by a prosecutor with a history of racial bias in jury selection.

The arguments, more passionate and fact-filled than usual, also had a surprise ending when Justice Clarence Thomas posed a question — the first time in three years.

Every year, the Supreme Court hears dozens of cases, and while there will usually be a few blockbuster opinions, the majority garner little media attention. But these more obscure decisions can often illustrate something interesting, even unexpected, about one of the justices. And so it was on Tuesday with Justice Neil Gorsuch and a relatively obscure and underplayed Indian treaty case.

Late last year, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor issued a statement announcing that she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. It was a poignant moment, a reminder that for decades O'Connor was seen as the most powerful woman in America.

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Updated at 3:55 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court appeared ready to let stand a 40-foot cross on public land in Maryland, but the justices struggled Wednesday to come up with a test to clarify the separation of church and state in this country.

Over the past half-century, the court has used a variety of tests — is the purpose of the contested symbol or program religious or not? Does it entangle government with religion? Does the government's action appear to endorse religion?

A giant concrete cross standing in the middle of a busy median strip is the latest symbol of a constitutional fight that has raged for decades. It's a fight over the concept of the separation of church and state and what the Founding Fathers meant when they wrote into the First Amendment a ban on government "establishment" of religion.

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