Nina Totenberg

Notorious-R-B-GI have quite a large supply.

– Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, discussing the number of Notorious RBG t-shirts she has, during an appearance with Dorit Beinisch, former President of the Supreme Court of Israel, at the 92nd Street Y, where the jurists were interviewed by Nina Totenberg.

(Keep reading to watch the entertaining interview, where Totenberg openly admits to the audience that both she and President Beinisch are “chopped liver” compared to Justice Ginsburg.)

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The front of the Supreme Court building: ‘Equal Justice Under Law.’ (Click to enlarge.)

Justice O’Connor, Justice Stevens, Ted Olson, David Boies, Jeffrey Toobin.

All of them were at the Supreme Court today, eager to hear what the Court had to say. New gay-marriage crusading BFFs Olson and Boies sat together. Also in attendance were lots of other fancy folks — like Solicitor General Don Verrilli and Nina Totenberg — who are there more often.

There’s nothing like late June at One First Street.

At the start of the day, 11 cases remained to be decided, four of them blockbusters. The issues on deck: the Defense of Marriage Act, Prop 8, the Voting Rights Act, and the University of Texas’s use of a form of affirmative action. Today, one of the big cases was resolved; with five others coming out, there are only six remaining.

Today, the Supreme Court, in an opinion by Justice Kennedy, addressed the University of Texas’s use of affirmative action. As the Chief Justice announced that Justice Kennedy had the opinion and would start reading it, a rush swept through the courtroom. People leaned forward. Papers rustled….

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* Today is most likely going to be a banner decision day for the Supreme Court, so in wild anticipation, SCOTUS expert Nina Totenberg was on call to answer some need-to-know questions for the people about the innermost workings of the Court. [NPR]

* One of the opinions we hope will drop at the Supreme Court today is that of the Fisher v. Texas affirmative action case. If you want some hints on how the three justices who attended Princeton (not counting Kagan) might rule, check this out. [Daily Princetonian]

* Justice Samuel Alito is out in Texas where he threw the first pitch — “a bit wide of the plate” — in last night’s Rangers game. Will SCOTUS unleash anything important in his absence? [Washington Post]

* Meanwhile, while we eagerly await decisions in the gay marriage cases next week, consider for a moment the possibility that this is all just but a gigantic train wreck waiting to happen. [New Republic]

* Things are heating up in North Dakota where the battle over abortion regulations continues to rage on. What a shame, especially since we supposedly took care of this stuff in the early 70s. [ABC News]

* “If this is what these women signed up for, who is anybody to tell them differently?” Two pimps were acquitted of sex trafficking after prostitutes testified on their behalf. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]


Today, the day after Memorial Day, it feels like summer in Washington. The air is wet and hot; when you’re outside, your clothes stick to your skin fast. I envy the tourists who get to wear shorts to the Supreme Court sessions.

It’s hot in other ways, too — the Court’s term is over at the end of June, and there is only so much time left for the Justices to crank out opinions. There are more TV cameras in front of the Supreme Court today, and the press section of the courtroom is more crowded than in the last few weeks.

Protesters are out at the Supreme Court too — a Lyndon LaRouche supporter asked me whether I can afford to bail out Spain. She smiled so pleasantly that I thought for a second she meant whether I, personally, could afford to bail out Spain. I almost started about talking about my law school debt, but realized that wasn’t what they were asking when I saw the sign urging the repeal of Glass-Steagall.

A woman holding a placard is either pro-Jesus or anti-abortion or both; I have a weak stomach for fetus gore, so I try not to look. I’m as much a fan of the First Amendment as the next guy, but boy does it encourage a freak show.

As with last week, the expectation for a big opinion from the Court is increasing….

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Sad little law school grad.

* With 269 partners to go, Dewey need to start panicking yet? Twelve additional partners, including practice group leaders, have jumped ship, bringing the grand total of partner-level defectors to 31 since January. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Late-breaking news: law schools’ numbers still don’t add up. The New York Times has already said its piece on the problem with law schools, so the Wall Street Journal decided that it was time to chime in again. [Wall Street Journal]

* Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, the man accused of going on an Afghan killing spree, will be represented by Ted Bundy’s lawyer. In the court of public opinion, that’s equivalent to pleading guilty. [Bloomberg]

* “I have had it with these motherf**king snakes breastfeeding women on this motherf**king plane!” A mother has settled a lawsuit with her airline over being kicked off a plane for nursing her child. [Businessweek]

* Here’s a fashion tip for law firm staff: you wear orange shirts in prison, not at the office. Think twice next time before you wear that color to work, because you might get fired like these folks in Florida. [Sun-Sentinel]

* Let’s face it, there is no escape from the law, not even in your free time (if that even exists). That being said, here’s a lawyerly crossword puzzle, inspired by Nina Totenberg’s reporting on legal affairs. Have fun! [NPR]

Do not confuse Nina Totenberg with The Grinch.

Yesterday we mentioned, as our Quote of the Day, a quip by NPR legal affairs commentator Nina Totenberg that some conservative bloggers interpreted as being anti-Christmas.

As it turns out, La Totenberg loves Christmas — and her innocent remark was badly misinterpreted. She explained everything to Roxanne Roberts and Amy Argetsinger, of the Washington Post’s Reliable Source….

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And I was at — forgive the expression — a Christmas party at the Department of Justice, and people actually [were] really worried about this [budget issue].

— NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg, in a recent on-air discussion. Totenberg’s apology for using the “C” word has generated controversy in conservative circles.

UPDATE: Totenberg intended no disrespect to Christmas. See here.

Word on the street is that President Obama is about to nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. This makes sense; there are many good reasons to nominate Kagan.

But what if Obama were to think outside the box in terms of SCOTUS nominations? What if he nominated, say, Lady Gaga to the high court? (She is not without ties to the legal world; she is, after all, the unofficial mascot of Cornell Law.)

If Lady Gaga were to become Justice Gaga, we could look forward to Supreme Court correspondent Nina Totenberg filing dispatches for NPR like this:

Wow. That was bizarre. So what’s the story behind this video?

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg cancer surgery.jpgHere’s one talk that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg didn’t fall asleep during: her own, a conversation with Nina Totenberg at the 92nd Street Y on Thursday night.
We took note of the fact that RBG dozed off a bit during President Obama’s State of the Union address. As it turns out, Justice Ginsburg has an explanation.

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Jeffrey Toobin The Nine Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court.jpgNew Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin’s exciting new book, The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court, is being released tomorrow. But it’s already provoking some interesting discussion in the blogosphere. See, e.g., this post by Professor Rick Garnett (esp. the comments).
And it’s garnering some favorable reviews. The dean of the Supreme Court press corps, Nina Totenberg of NPR, has given The Nine her blessing.
How does The Nine compare to other recent books about the Supreme Court? Here is Totes’s take:

Jeffrey Rosen’s book about famous court personalities and rivalries is an interesting history packed into a professorial thesis. [A] biography of Justice Clarence Thomas by the Washington Post’s Kevin Merida and Michael Fletcher is a credible, but limited, look at the justice. In addition, Thomas himself was paid a reported $1 million to write a book that is slated to come out this fall.

If you’re interested in the Supreme Court as an institution and as a collection of personalities, though, Toobin’s is the book to read.

Hey Nina, what about the book by that rather attractive lady reporter?

Supreme Conflict, by ABC’s Jan Crawford Greenburg, contains a fair amount of good conservative gossip about the nomination of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, but it lacks the balance, substance, and context of Toobin’s book.

Ouch. Jan, remember all those nice things you had to say about Nina? Care to take any of them back?
Toobin’s ‘The Nine’ Reveals Politics of High Court [NPR]
“The Nine” [PrawfsBlawg]
Earlier: In Defense of Nina: Jan Crawford Greenburg

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