Nina Totenberg Nina Totenberg is NPR's award-winning legal affairs correspondent.
Nina Totenberg
Stories By

Nina Totenberg

Asa Mathat
Nina Totenberg
Asa Mathat

Nina Totenberg

Correspondent, Legal Affairs

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, in 1992 and 1988 Esquire magazine 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.

[+] read more[-] less

Story Archive

Supreme Court To Hear Controversial Census Citizenship Question

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/716258047/716258048" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

The Supreme Court justices are hearing oral arguments Tuesday over the citizenship question the Trump administration wants to add to forms for the 2020 census. Susan Walsh/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Susan Walsh/AP

Los Angeles artist Erik Brunetti, the founder of the streetwear clothing company "FUCT," leaves the Supreme Court after his trademark case was argued on Monday. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

toggle caption
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Supreme Court Dances Around The F-Word With Real Potential Financial Consequences

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/713632552/713702101" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Without Using Profanity, Supreme Court Justices Discuss Case Centered On Bad Language

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/713616864/713616892" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Death penalty opponent Herve Deschamps holds a sign during a vigil outside St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis, hours before the 2014 scheduled execution of death row inmate Russell Bucklew. Jeff Roberson/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Jeff Roberson/AP

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh had some sharp questions about partisan gerrymandering, as the court heard arguments on it Tuesday. Zach Gibson/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Kavanaugh Seems Conflicted On Partisan Gerrymandering At Supreme Court Arguments

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/706922347/706969497" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Demonstrators protest partisan redistricting in 2017 during oral arguments in a case out of Wisconsin. Olivier Douliery/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Olivier Douliery/Getty Images

The Supreme Court Takes Another Look At Partisan Redistricting

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/704523712/706777791" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Chief Justice John Roberts attends the 37th Kennedy Center Honors at the Kennedy Center on Dec. 7, 2014, in Washington, DC. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

In 'The Chief,' An Enigmatic, Conservative John Roberts Walks A Political Tightrope

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/701754699/706462352" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

People line up to enter the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

toggle caption
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Supreme Court Justices Seem Incredulous At Repeated Racial Bias In Jury Selection

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/705211168/705252865" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

For those familiar with Justice Neil Gorsuch's record, his vote was not a surprise. He previously served on the federal appeals court based in Denver, a court that encompasses dozens of recognized Indian tribes. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Evan Thomas breaks new ground with extraordinary access to Sandra Day O'Connor, her papers, journals — and even 20 years of her husband's diary. Mike Moore/WireImage/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Mike Moore/WireImage/Getty Images

From Triumph To Tragedy, 'First' Tells Story Of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/693542112/704562513" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Supreme Court Appears Ready To Let 40-Foot Cross Stand On Public Land

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/698700471/698700472" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The Peace Cross in Maryland is a memorial to veterans from World War I. Becky Harlan /NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Becky Harlan /NPR

Supreme Court Appears Ready To Let Cross Stand But Struggles With Church-State Test

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/697708856/698474383" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript