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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.

President Trump and Senate Republicans are remaking the federal courts in their own image.

Prior to the Trump administration, there was plenty of tit for tat in the escalating partisan wars over judicial nominations. But these tactics were aimed at blocking nominees. Since Trump was sworn in, however, the GOP Senate leadership has moved aggressively to speed confirmation of new judges, casting aside long-existing practices and traditions that ensured some consensus in picking the judges who sit on the federal courts of appeal.

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Three years after his death, my father, virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg, made headlines all over the world when his beloved Stradivarius violin, stolen 35 years earlier, was recovered by the FBI. The story struck the hearts of so many, I think, because in such turbulent times, it was rare good, even joyful, news. And the mystery of where it had been, was finally solved.

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And we're joined now by NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg to talk about what she expects to see from Justice Kavanaugh and the Supreme Court in the months ahead. Hi, Nina.

NINA TOTENBERG, BYLINE: Hi, Lulu.

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The Supreme Court grappled with a difficult death penalty question Tuesday. Does it violate the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment to execute a convicted murderer who has such severe dementia that he doesn't remember the crime he committed?

Vernon Madison committed a terrible crime. In 1985, after leaving his girlfriend's house, he returned, and shot and killed a police officer who sat outside in his car to provide protection for the woman.

As the fight over the Brett Kavanaugh nomination continues to reverberate throughout the country, the shorthanded Supreme Court began its new term Monday. Republicans had hoped to seat nominee Brett Kavanaugh in time for the start of the term, but that, of course, did not happen.

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We turn now to NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg. She's been following the hearing all day. And, Nina, to start, let's just put this in context. What were your impressions?

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The accusations against Brett Kavanaugh are mounting, with a third woman going public with a charge of sexual misconduct against the Supreme Court nominee. Today on Capitol Hill, the first of Kavanaugh's accusers is taking the stand.

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Now let's turn to NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg. She has been looking at advance copies of tomorrow's testimony and having to think about how the hearing might unfold. Hello, Nina.

NINA TOTENBERG, BYLINE: Hi there.

Updated at 3:00 p.m. ET

It is still unclear exactly how and under what conditions Christine Blasey Ford will testify Thursday on Capitol Hill. Ford has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of a sexual assault when they were in high school.

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Professor Christine Blasey Ford came forward on Sunday for the first time telling her story alleging that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually attacked her 35 years ago when the two were both in high school.

So how is this different from the sexual harassment allegations made against now Justice Clarence Thomas by law professor Anita Hill in 1991 at his confirmation hearing?

I know because I was there. I broke the story and then watched in amazement as events unfolded.

There are big differences and similarities in these two events.

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Today, a Senate committee hears additional witnesses about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh himself weathered two days of questioning. NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg reports on what the public learned.

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