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 first time in 10 years, the U.S. Supreme Court has heard a major gun-rights case. But the drumroll of anticipation seemed to fade, as the debate in the high court Monday focused almost exclusively on whether the case should be dismissed as moot.

Guns: when and how to regulate them. It's one of the biggest issues across the country. But the U.S. Supreme Court has rarely weighed in on the issue. In modern times, it has ruled decisively just twice. Now it's on the brink of doing so again.

With the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, there now are five conservative justices who may be willing to shut down many attempts at regulation, just as the NRA's lock on state legislatures may be waning.

Updated at 7:14 p.m. ET

A vast hall filled with members of the conservative Federalist Society on Thursday night welcomed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh as a conquering hero, while outside on a large screen protesters played video from Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing of testimony by Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused him of sexual misconduct.

The U.S. Supreme Court's conservative majority signaled Tuesday that it may let the Trump administration shut down the Obama-era program that granted temporary protection from deportation to roughly 700,000 young people, commonly known as DREAMers.

Brought to the U.S. illegally as children, the DREAMers were allowed to legally work and go to school if they met certain requirements and passed a background check. The program, begun in 2012, is known as DACA — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in a highly anticipated set of cases that threatens the legal status of some 700,000 young immigrants — often called DREAMers — who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. It's a program that President Trump tried to rescind seven months after taking office, only to have the lower courts block his action.

Mitchell Santos Toledo came to the United States when he was 2. His parents had temporary visas when they brought him and his 5-year-old sister to the country. They never left. This spring, Santos Toledo will graduate from Harvard Law School. He is one of the 700,000 DREAMers whose fate in the U.S. may well be determined by a Supreme Court case to be argued Tuesday.

A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., ruled Friday that President Trump's longtime accounting firm must comply with a congressional subpoena for some of Trump's personal financial records.

The retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy loomed large over arguments at the court Tuesday in a set of cases testing whether employers are free to fire gay and transgender employees. Kennedy, a Reagan appointee, was the author of every major gay rights decision for more than two decades. His absence, and the presence of two new Trump appointees, could very well determine how these cases are decided, who wins, and who loses.

Updated at 12:59 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a long-awaited set of cases testing whether the federal law that bars sex discrimination in employment applies to LGBTQ employees.

Specifically, the question is whether employers are free to fire employees because they are gay or transgender.

The Supreme Court may be eager to portray itself as an apolitical institution. But this term, political questions writ large are knocking at the high court door.

The upcoming term will almost surely be a march to the right on almost every issue that is a flashpoint in American society. Among them: abortion, guns, gay rights, the separation of church and state, immigration and presidential power.

Updated at 6:24 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court has jumped headlong back into the abortion wars. The court said Friday that it will hear arguments in a case from Louisiana that is nearly identical to a Texas case decided by the court three years ago.

Like the Texas law that the court previously struck down, the Louisiana law requires any doctor performing an abortion to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

Updated on Aug. 26 at 1 p.m. ET

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has just completed three weeks of radiation treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the U.S. Supreme Court disclosed Friday.

The radiation therapy, conducted on an outpatient basis, began Aug. 5, shortly after a localized cancerous tumor was discovered on Ginsburg's pancreas. The treatment included the insertion of a stent in Ginsburg's bile duct, according to a statement issued by the court.

Does Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the 86-year-old feminist icon, have any regrets about her professional life?

Hardly.

"I do think that I was born under a very bright star," Ginsburg said, recounting her life and the obstacles that faced her.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in an interview Tuesday that she does not favor proposals put forth by some Democratic presidential candidates who have advocated changing the number of Supreme Court justices if the Democrats win the presidency.

Ginsburg, who got herself in trouble criticizing candidate Donald Trump in 2016, this time was critical not of any particular Democratic contender, but of their proposals to offset President Trump's two conservative appointments to the court.

On the U.S. Supreme Court, where nine justices often disagree but try to meld their views into majority decisions, one justice stands out.

Clarence Thomas, the longest-serving member of the current court — and its only African American — has views that perhaps can be described only as unique.

Some court watchers, however, use other terms: idiosyncratic, eccentric, provocative, thoughtful and, yes, wacky.

What was he thinking? That is the question many are asking on both sides of the political spectrum.

Chief Justice John Roberts repeatedly voted with the Supreme Court's conservatives this term, except in one, and only one, 5-4 decision. Written by Roberts, the ruling blocked the addition of a citizenship question on the 2020 census, leaving an angry President Trump desperately trying to find a way around it.

It also left a lot of speculation about the motives of the chief justice.

This past term, the Supreme Court decided cases dealing with thorny issues such as a citizenship question on the U.S. census, political gerrymandering and the separation of church and state.

The fates of almost 1 million people brought to the country illegally as children, known as DREAMers, are now in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The court granted an appeal to the Trump administration's decision to end the DACA program, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

The Obama-era program to protect DREAMers will get a one-hour hearing before the high court next term. The court said it would consolidate three appeals into one argument.

Updated 7:45 p.m. ET

In a 5-4 decision along traditional conservative-liberal ideological lines, the Supreme Court ruled that partisan redistricting is a political question — not reviewable by federal courts — and that those courts can't judge if extreme gerrymandering violates the Constitution.

The ruling puts the onus on the legislative branch, and on individual states, to police redistricting efforts.

Updated at 7:54 p.m. ET

President Trump says he is looking into delaying the 2020 census, hours after the Supreme Court decided to keep a question about citizenship off the form to be used for the head count.

Trump tweeted that he has asked lawyers whether they can "delay the Census, no matter how long, until the United States Supreme Court is given additional information from which it can make a final and decisive decision on this very critical matter."

The Supreme Court has ruled that police may, without a warrant, order blood drawn from an unconscious person suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol.

The Fourth Amendment generally requires police to obtain a warrant for a blood draw. But in a 5-4 vote on Thursday, the court upheld a Wisconsin law that says people driving on a public road have impliedly consented to having their blood drawn if police suspect them of driving under the influence. It also said that "exigent circumstances" permit police to obtain a blood sample without a warrant.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Pages