Nina Totenberg: Supreme Court Justices "are not public opinion specialists"

Mar 10, 2015

NPR legal affairs correspondent, Nina Totenberg, has covered the U.S. Supreme Court for many years, translating court cases and generating interest in the judicial system with audiences all over the country.

She says there are a lot of misconceptions about this court and its justices.

"This court does not function like some sort of legislature," Totenberg says. "You may think that their views, whether liberal or conservative, are tainted by their own political views, but they're not going to change their notion. Whether they are liked or not, they are who they are."

She also notes that Supreme Court justices are not swayed by public opinion and do not take politics into account.

"Believe me, they're not public opinion specialists," she says. "These people know very little about public opinion or about politics... surprisingly little sometimes."

In this River to River interview, Totenberg also opens up about an incident in 2000, where her husband treated her for severe injuries after she was hit by a boat propeller while swimming in the Caribbean.

Nina Totenberg will be the guest for the 34th Bucksbaum Lecture: Thursday, March 12, 2015 at the Drake University, Knapp Center - 7:00 p.m. in Des Moines.

Hear River to River weekdays at noon on Iowa Public Radio.