NPR Supreme Court Correspondent Apologizes for Error

Nina Totenberg / AP
• July 8, 2013 2:34 pm


NPR Supreme Court correspondent Nina Totenberg apologized Monday for a wrap-up piece she wrote at the end of the last Supreme Court term in which she mischaracterized a quote from a Northwestern University law professor.

Her original piece characterized a quote Totenberg thought was about the Voting Rights Act. The professor was actually speaking about the Defense of Marriage Act case.

She writes:

I have always believed in correcting mistakes, especially bad ones. In my wrap-up piece at the end of the Supreme Court term, I quoted Northwestern University law professor John McGinnis as one of several conservative scholars highly critical of the court's decision on the Voting Rights Act. In my telling, he called the decision "as singular a failure as I've seen in the history of the Supreme Court." But I inadvertently misused the quote, which came from his appearance on a panel at the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

McGinnis used those words to describe the court's decision in the Defense Of Marriage Act case, not the Voting Rights Act decision about which he was also critical but not nearly as sweeping in his condemnation. I listened to the whole panel but apparently got confused in my notations about what McGinnis was talking about at about an hour and 10 minutes into the panel.

When the New Yorker's Jane Mayer recently misquoted an Americans for Prosperity pledge, she attributed the error to a New Yorker copy editor.

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