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.

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.

Updated at 5:24 p.m. ET

At the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, the justices expressed doubts about a plan to exclude undocumented immigrants from a key census count — the first time unauthorized immigrants would not be counted for purposes of drawing new congressional districts.

Even as his administration is heading out the door, President Trump is trying to exclude undocumented immigrants from the decennial census. If he succeeds, it will be the first time unauthorized immigrants will not be counted for purposes of drawing new congressional districts.

Three lower courts have ruled unanimously that the president's action violates either the Constitution, the federal census statute, or both. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in one of those cases — from New York.

The start of the U.S. census

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.

With President Trump railing about "fraud" and pointing to the Supreme Court — with three of his appointees — as the final arbiter, the question many are asking is this: What are the chances that the high court will actually get involved? In short, will 2020 be a replay of Bush v. Gore?

Updated at 6:24 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court may be poised to side with Catholic Social Services in a battle that pits religious freedom against anti-discrimination laws in Philadelphia and across the country.

At issue in a case argued on Wednesday is the Catholic charity's refusal to screen same-sex couples as foster care parents.

While new Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not indicate which way she is leaning, other members of the court's conservative majority did.

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.

New Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett heard her first oral arguments at the Supreme Court on Monday. Participating by phone with the other justices, a practice followed by the court since the coronavirus pandemic, she asked questions in turn in a set of cases that presented difficult procedural questions but no headlines.

The court said she did not participate in the court's work last week after being sworn in so she would be prepared for oral arguments this week.

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.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

Nina, welcome back.

NINA TOTENBERG, BYLINE: Hi.

There will be plenty of firsts on Monday as the Senate Judiciary Committee opens hearings on the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It is the first time that a confirmation hearing is taking place amid a pandemic and with two committee members, both Republicans, recently having tested positive for the coronavirus.

It is also the first time that a confirmation hearing is taking place at the same time early voting has begun in many states, and in a presidential election year.

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.

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