Carrie Johnson

Carrie Johnson is a Justice Correspondent for the Washington Desk.

She covers a wide variety of stories about justice issues, law enforcement and legal affairs for NPR's flagship programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as the Newscasts and NPR.org.

While in this role, Johnson has chronicled major challenges to the landmark voting rights law, a botched law enforcement operation targeting gun traffickers along the Southwest border, and the Obama administration's deadly drone program for suspected terrorists overseas.

Prior to coming to NPR in 2010, Johnson worked at the Washington Post for 10 years, where she closely observed the FBI, the Justice Department and criminal trials of the former leaders of Enron, HealthSouth and Tyco. Earlier in her career, she wrote about courts for the weekly publication Legal Times.

Outside of her role at NPR, Johnson regularly moderates or appears on legal panels for the American Bar Association, the American Constitution Society, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and others. She's talked about her work on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, PBS, and other outlets.

Her work has been honored with awards from the Society for Professional Journalists and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. She has been a finalist for the Loeb award for financial journalism and for the Pulitzer Prize in breaking news for team coverage of the massacre at Fort Hood, Texas.

Johnson is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Benedictine University in Illinois.

Pages

The Sequester: Cuts And Consequences
3:22 am
Wed April 10, 2013

Some Public Defenders Warn: 'We Have Nothing Left To Cut'

Originally published on Wed April 10, 2013 7:20 am

Steven Nolder joined the federal public defender's office when it opened in Columbus, Ohio, nearly 18 years ago. Nolder handled his share of noteworthy cases, including the first federal death penalty trial in the district and the indictment of a former NFL quarterback embroiled in a ticket fraud scheme.

Lately, Nolder says, his professional world has turned upside down.

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It's All Politics
5:11 am
Thu April 4, 2013

The Hunt Is On For A New FBI Director

FBI Director Robert Mueller is set to leave office this year. Whomever President Obama chooses to replace him could become a big part of Obama's legacy.
Susan Walsh AP

Robert Mueller became FBI director just days before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Since then, he's been the U.S. government's indispensable man when it comes to national security.

But Mueller's term has expired, and the clock is ticking on an unprecedented extension that Congress gave him two years ago.

The first time the Obama White House thought about a replacement for Mueller, back in 2011, officials threw up their hands and wound up begging him to stay. Congress passed a special law to allow it. Then Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa put his foot down.

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It's All Politics
3:25 am
Tue April 2, 2013

Judicial Vacancies Languish On Key Federal Appeals Court

President Obama last month withdrew the nomination of Caitlin J. Halligan to the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., after her nomination was blocked by Senate Republicans.
Jim McKnight AP

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 7:42 am

The federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., is sometimes called the second most important court in the country, regularly delivering the final word on major environmental, labor and national security cases.

But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has a whopping four vacancies, the most in the nation, including one opening that dates all the way back to 2005, when John Roberts moved to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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The Two-Way
6:18 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Obama's Labor Nominee Faces GOP Opposition Over His Role In A Supreme Court Case

Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Fri April 12, 2013 12:33 pm

Thomas Perez, the president's nominee to lead the Department of Labor and a high-profile Latino advocate for civil rights, is scheduled for a Senate confirmation hearing April 18. But behind-the-scenes wrangling over his nomination, and his controversial role in a Supreme Court case, is already well under way.

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Law
4:30 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Supreme Court Wrestles With Implications Of Defense Of Marriage Act

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 9:55 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

In a second day of historic arguments on gay marriage, the Supreme Court wrestled with DOMA today. The Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1996 defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman for the purposes of federal law and it affects the administration of more than 1,000 federal programs, everything from Social Security and family leave to the estate tax.

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Law
4:56 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

California's Proposition 8 Gets Its Day In The Supreme Court

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 5:58 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Inside the courtroom, the debate over California's gay marriage ban was joined with sharp questions and a splash of humor. But where will all lead is still unknown. As NPR's Carrie Johnson reports, expectations for a sweeping and decisive ruling may be overblown.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Chief Justice John Roberts set the tone in the opening moments. Almost immediately, he pressed the lawyer defending California's gay marriage ban on the most basic of points.

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Same-Sex Marriage And The Supreme Court
3:25 am
Tue March 26, 2013

High Court's Decision On Federal Marriage Law Has Tax Implications

While equal rights occupy a large part of the debate over same-sex marriage, federal taxes are also a concern for gay couples. Experts say repealing the Defense of Marriage Act will affect some same-sex couples when they file their taxes.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue March 26, 2013 9:57 am

When advocates for gay marriage talk about it, they usually focus on the struggle for equality and civil rights.

But how the Supreme Court decides the Defense of Marriage Act case being argued this week could possibly have big implications in another arena — the money same-sex couples owe the Internal Revenue Service.

The case that could throw out a law that defines marriage as between a man and woman started with a tax bill.

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Politics
4:43 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

Obama's Labor Secretary Pick Could Hit Snags Over Immigration Work

Originally published on Mon March 18, 2013 5:54 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

In the east room of the White House today, union leaders sat side by side with civil rights luminaries as President Obama announced his choice for secretary of Labor. The nominee, Justice Department lawyer Thomas Perez, has a back-story the president finds irresistible.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Like so many Americans, Tom knows what it's like to climb the ladder of opportunity. He's the son of Dominican immigrants. He helped pay his way through college as a garbage collector and working at a warehouse.

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Politics
12:38 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

Justice Department's Tom Perez Tapped For Labor Secretary

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with a new labor secretary.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: President Obama has chosen justice department lawyer Thomas Perez for the post. Perez is the son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic. He ran the labor department in his home state of Maryland and he will add a high profile Latino voice to the cabinet. But, NPR's Carrie Johnson reports, his nomination is not without controversy.

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The Two-Way
12:27 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

Court Says CIA Can't Have It Both Ways On Drones

Don't deny you have documents about drones, court tells the CIA.
Kirsty Wigglesworth AP

Originally published on Fri March 15, 2013 2:56 pm

A federal appeals court has rejected an effort by the CIA to deny it has any documents about a U.S. drone program that has killed terrorists overseas, ruling that the agency is stretching the law too far and asking judges "to give their imprimatur to a fiction of deniability that no reasonable person would regard as plausible."

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Law
5:12 am
Fri March 15, 2013

50 Years After Key Case, Problems Defending The Poor Persist

Originally published on Fri March 15, 2013 6:50 am

Next week marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in which the justices unanimously ruled that defendants facing substantial jail time deserved legal representation in state courts, even if they couldn't afford to pay for it.

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The Two-Way
6:18 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Labor Relations Board Will Take Recess Appointment Decision To Supreme Court

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 6:32 pm

The National Labor Relations Board says it will ask the Supreme Court to review a lower court decision that invalidated three of President Obama's recess appointments, casting a legal cloud over more than 1,000 board actions over the past year.

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The Two-Way
5:06 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Justice's Voting Rights Unit Suffers 'Deep Ideological Polarization' Says Watchdog

Attorney General Eric Holder (R) and Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas Perez in 2010 in Washington, D.C.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 5:53 pm

The Justice Department's voting rights unit suffers from "deep ideological polarization" and a "disappointing lack of professionalism" including leaks of sensitive case information, harassment and mistreatment among colleagues who have political differences, department watchdogs concluded Tuesday.

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National Security
5:39 am
Sun March 10, 2013

When Rand Paul Ended Filibuster, He Left Drones On National Stage

Code Pink activists deliver flowers, candies and other objects of thanks to Sen. Rand Paul's Capitol Hill offices Thursday for filibustering John Brennan's CIA nomination.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Sun March 10, 2013 1:21 pm

Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky launched a nationwide conversation last week with his 13-hour filibuster of the president's nominee to lead the CIA.

Paul vowed to keep talking until the White House clarified whether it has authority to kill U.S. citizens on American soil with drones.

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Politics
4:30 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Senators Question Holder Over U.S. Drone Program

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 11:49 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. It began around mid-day today, while wet snow fell on Washington D.C. Inside the Capitol building, a conservative Republican senator began to talk and talk - and talk. Rand Paul launched a filibuster to block the nomination of John Brennan for CIA director because of concerns over the administration's drone policies.

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It's All Politics
5:13 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

Justice Department Warns Of 'Pain' From Looming Cuts

Attorney General Eric Holder speaks before a meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General on Tuesday.
Manuel Balce Ceneta AP

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 6:30 pm

President Obama minced no words when he talked about how the looming budget cuts known as sequestration could hurt the Justice Department.

"FBI agents will be furloughed. Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go," Obama said.

Starting late Friday, if Congress and the White House can't come to an agreement, the Justice Department will face $1.6 billion in cuts — about 9 percent of its budget. Attorney General Eric Holder told a group of state law enforcement officials who met in Washington this week that the situation looks ugly.

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It's All Politics
3:03 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

Would-Be Federal Judges Face The Washington Waiting Game

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 7:23 pm

To understand what's happening with federal judge vacancies, consider this: The Senate voted Monday night to approve the nomination of Robert Bacharach to sit on the federal appeals court based in Denver.

Bacharach had won support from both Republican senators in his home state, and his nomination was approved unanimously. But he still waited more than 260 days for that vote.

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The Two-Way
3:35 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Justice Department Joins Lawsuit Against Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong finishes the Power of Four Mountain Bike Race on Aspen Mountain on August 25, 2012.
Riccardo S. Savi Getty Images

The Justice Department has joined a civil lawsuit against cyclist Lance Armstrong, his Tailwind Sports team and its longtime manager, alleging their pervasive doping campaign defrauded the U.S. Postal Service out of more than $31 million in sponsorship fees.

The decision ratchets up the legal pressure on Armstrong, who's lost his seven Tour de France titles, enormous advertising and sponsorship deals, and a large part of his reputation.

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Law
5:12 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Jesse Jackson Jr. Pleads Guilty To Misusing Campaign Cash

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 6:11 pm

Former Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. pleaded guilty Wednesday to using about $750,000 in campaign funds for personal use.

It's All Politics
3:22 am
Mon February 18, 2013

Government Slowly Changes Approach To Whistle-Blowers

In this 1971 file photo, the real-life Frank Serpico (center, with beard) appears at a hearing during an investigation into police corruption in New York City.
Jim Wells AP

Originally published on Mon February 18, 2013 6:42 am

The federal government once considered whistle-blowers a nuisance or worse. But over the past few years, that attitude has slowly started to change. More agencies have been reaching out for tips about fraud and abuse in and outside the government, even if digging through the stacks of complaints can present a challenge.

Think back to those movies in the 1970s — movies filled with heroic figures who risked it all to expose unsafe factories and police corruption, like New York cop Frank Serpico exposing his less-than-clean colleagues.

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