Nina Totenberg Nina Totenberg is NPR's award-winning legal affairs correspondent.
Nina Totenberg at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., May 21, 2019. (photo by Allison Shelley)
Stories By

Nina Totenberg

Allison Shelley/NPR
Nina Totenberg at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., May 21, 2019. (photo by Allison Shelley)
Allison Shelley/NPR

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, 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.

Story Archive

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Supreme Court hears arguments on campaign finance law, issues statement on NPR report

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1074169348/1074253850" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Supreme Court heard Cruz case about using post-election contributions to repay loans

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1074172870/1074172871" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Divisions at the U.S. Supreme Court are playing out in differences among the justices

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1073881777/1073881778" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Members of the Supreme Court: Seated from left are Associate Justice Samuel Alito, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Standing from left are Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch and Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Erin Schaff/New York Times/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Erin Schaff/New York Times/AP

Gorsuch didn't mask despite Sotomayor's COVID worries, leading her to telework

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1073428376/1073732665" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The Supreme Court's vote to invalidate the vaccine-or-test regulation was 6 to 3, along ideological lines. Evan Vucci/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Evan Vucci/AP

Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine-or-test mandate for large private companies

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1072165393/1072893318" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The Supreme Court heard challenges Friday to the Biden administration efforts to increase the nation's vaccination rate against COVID-19. Evan Vucci/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Evan Vucci/AP

Supreme Court's conservatives cast cloud over vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1071304780/1071489546" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The Supreme Court hears arguments Friday in two cases challenging the Biden administration's vaccine mandates. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

toggle caption
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments challenging vaccine mandates

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1071128277/1071181273" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Supreme Court again leaves state vaccine mandate in place for health care workers

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1063923911/1064011314" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Supreme Court refuses to block Texas abortion law as legal fights move ahead

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1063065970/1063070824" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

An anti-abortion activist rallies outside the Supreme Court on Nov. 1, as arguments about Texas' abortion law begin. The court has allowed the law to remain in place for now. Jacquelyn Martin/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Supreme Court refuses to block Texas abortion law as legal fights move forward

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1053628779/1063250610" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The Supreme Court heard arguments in a challenge from parents in Maine who want to use a state tuition program to send their children to religious schools. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

toggle caption
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Supreme Court signals further erosion of separation of church and state in schools

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1062498821/1063358594" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The Supreme Court's conservative majority has been shrinking the Constitution's wall of separation between church and state, particularly in cases dealing with religious schools. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

toggle caption
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Supreme Court weighs mandating public funds for religious schools in Maine

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1061996765/1062320046" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript