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.

Even as the Trump 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'

The House Judiciary Committee is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to postpone arguments set for Dec. 2 in a case testing whether the committee has the right to see grand jury materials related to the Trump impeachment inquiry.

The committee has sought the material since July 2019 when it went to court after Attorney General William Barr refused to provide the panel with an unredacted copy of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report.

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.

The U.S. Supreme Court seemed closely divided Tuesday as it heard oral argument in a Mississippi case that tests the constitutional limits of sentencing juveniles convicted of murder to life in prison without parole.

At issue in Monday's case was whether states may sentence a juvenile convicted of murder to life without parole, without finding that he is so incorrigible that there is no hope for his rehabilitation.

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.

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused, for a second time, a Republican Party effort to block a three-day extension for receiving absentee ballots in Pennsylvania. That means that at least until after the election, the court will not intervene in the way the state conducts its vote count.

The court in a second case from North Carolina, also refused late Wednesday to block a similar extension of time to count votes, an extension put into place by the state election board.

Updated at 12:26 p.m. ET

Amy Coney Barrett became the 115th Supreme Court justice Tuesday when Chief Justice John Roberts administered the judicial oath of office in a private ceremony at the court. Barrett immediately was faced with an unusual motion seeking her recusal in an election procedures case currently pending before the court from Pennsylvania.

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.

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.

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

Nina, welcome back.

NINA TOTENBERG, BYLINE: Hi.

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And that was all before we heard from Judge Barrett herself. NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg has been following all of this today, and she joins us now. Hey, Nina.

NINA TOTENBERG, BYLINE: Hi there, Ailsa.

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.

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused, for now, to reimpose FDA regulations that require women seeking medication abortion to pick up the prescribed pills in person at a clinic instead of by mail.

The court's decision came Thursday night on a 6-to-2 vote that rejected an emergency appeal from the Trump administration.

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.

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The U.S. Supreme Court opened a new term today with Chief Justice John Roberts giving a short tribute to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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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.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court seat made vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has a relatively short record as a federal judge, but a long track record as a conservative lawyer and law professor.

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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Earlier this evening, President Trump ended the speculation when he announced his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Federal appeals court Judge Barbara Lagoa is high on President Trump's list of potential nominees for the Supreme Court seat left open by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Updated Saturday at 5:22 p.m. ET

President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, is a judge on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago and is a favorite among social conservatives. They, and others on the right, view her record as anti-abortion rights and hostile to the Affordable Care Act.

If confirmed, the 48-year-old Barrett would be the youngest justice on the Supreme Court and could help reshape the law and society for generations to come.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will lie in repose at the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday and Thursday, the Supreme Court announced Monday.

Her casket will arrive in front of the court just before 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, the court said in a statement. A private ceremony will take place in the court's Great Hall at 9:30 a.m. attended by Ginsburg's family, close friends and members of the court.

Following that ceremony, Ginsburg will lie in repose under the Portico at the top of the front steps of the Supreme Court building to allow for public viewing outdoors.

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.

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