Julie Hilden
Julie Hilden

Julie Hilden graduated from Harvard College and Yale Law School, where she served as a Teaching Assistant and a Notes Editor on the Yale Law Journal. 

From 1992-93, Hilden clerked for then-Chief Judge Stephen G. Breyer of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. 

From 1993-95, she earned an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing from Cornell, and taught a course in Legal Writing at Cornell Law School. 

From 1995-96, she clerked for Judge Kimba M. Wood of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. 

From 1996-99, she was a litigation associate at the Washington, D.C. firm of Williams & Connolly, where she focused primarily on First Amendment issues. 

From 2000, Hilden worked as a freelance writer and editor. Her novel, 3, was published in 2003 and optioned for film. From 2000 to 2010, her legal commentary appeared regularly on FindLaw.com’s Writ and occasionally on other media venues such as Good Morning America, Court TV, CNN.com, NPR, and Slate.com.

Hilden passed away in 2018.

Columns by Julie Hilden
Animal Rights Activists Should Have Clear Notice of the Bounds of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA)

Justia columnist and attorney Julie Hilden comments on the March 2014 ruling by Chief Judge Lynch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which held that that five animal rights activists were not entitled to declaratory and injunctive relief stating that the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA)—which criminalizes force, violence, and threats—is unconstitutional.

A Ninth Circuit Decision Sends A Message On Public School Student Uniforms

Justia columnist and attorney Julie Hilden comments on a recent Ninth Circuit case that involves Supreme Court doctrine regarding compelled speech. Here, the compelled speech issue arose when public school students were required to wear uniforms that stated “Tomorrow’s Leaders.” Hilden also describes two Supreme Court cases that also involve compelled speech.

A Ninth Circuit Panel Balances First Amendment Rights Against School Safety

Justia columnist and attorney Julie Hilden discusses a First Amendment opinion by a three-judge Ninth Circuit panel: Dariano v. Morgan Hill Unified School District. The lawsuit emerged after school officials at Live Oak High School, in Northern California, learned of threats of race-related violence that had occurred during a school-sanctioned Cinco de Mayo celebration. School authorities then asked a group of students to remove clothing bearing images of the American flag. The students then brought a civil rights suit against the school district and two school officials. The Ninth Circuit panel held that because school officials anticipated violence or substantial disruption, the officials’ response of banning the shirts was tailored to the circumstances, and thus appropriate despite First Amendment concerns.

Gawker Media Versus Hulk Hogan: A Court Fight Over a Sex Tape

Justia columnist and attorney Julie Hilden comments on the Florida state court litigation between wrestler Hulk Hogan and the Gawker website regarding Hogan's sex tape. Hilden comments on the First Amendment, copyright, and tort issues that the litigation involves. Interestingly, the litigation has intersected with considerable publicity for Hogan, suggesting that he may not be solely a victim here.

The Ninth Circuit Holds—Correctly—That a Blogger Has the Same Defamation Protection as a Journalist

Justia columnist and attorney Julie Hilden comments on the January 17 decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that ruled, as a matter of first impression, that First Amendment defamation rules apply equally to both the institutional press and to individual speakers and writers, such as bloggers.

A Battle Between A Rapper And A Notorious Former Cocaine Dealer Over Intellectual Property Rights Ends Up in a California Court

Justia columnist and attorney Julie Hilden comments on a recent California Court of Appeals decision that involved a rapper, and an infamous former cocaine dealer. The court held that a person’s name and public persona are First Amendment-protected if they incorporate significant creative elements, and thus count as a transformative use of the original name and/or persona. Hilden argues that the court was correct in its holding in the case.

Why a Texas Appellate Court Struck Down a Ban on Certain Sexual Communications Online

Justia columnist and attorney Julie Hilden comments on a Texas Appellate Court decision from October. The decision was based on a Texas man’s being charged under the State’s penal code for the third-degree felony of communicating in a sexually-explicit manner with a person whom he believed to be a minor, with intent to arouse or gratify his sexual desire. The Texas appellate court, however, deemed the statute to be overbroad and therefore struck it down for First Amendment reasons, noting that content-based regulations of speech, such as the one at issue here, are presumably invalid, and citing the law's potential to reach even great works of literature.

The Risks of Defamation on Blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, and the Corsi/Esquire Magazine Case

Justia columnist and attorney Julie Hilden comments on a case from November 26, in which a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held that a posting on Esquire Magazine’s Politics Blog, claiming falsely—but in jest and temporarily—that a conservative publisher had had the entire print run of 200,000 copies of a conservative book pulled from the shelves and pulped, and that it was offering full refunds to buyers, fit into the First Amendment's protection for satire. Hilden also remarks upon defamation risks on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs.

Can a Trial Court, Consistent with the First Amendment, Order an Attorney to Take Down Part of Her Website During Trial?

Justia columnist and attorney Julie Hilden comments on a recent case in which a judge ordered an attorney to take down that part of her website regarding prior, similar victories. The judge reasoned that jurors might see the website, but Hilden notes that jurors in the case were admonished not to go online. Accordingly, Hilden contends that the judge erred in directing the lawyer to change the site.

Should a Public Middle School Grammar Teacher Be Able to Teach a Lesson About the “N Word”?

Justia columnist and attorney Julie Hilden comments on a case from the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois, which involved a public school grammar teacher who—after intercepting a student's note that included rap music lyrics—continued the discussion, which then moved on to the use of the “N Word.” Hilden argues that the teacher should not have been suspended without pay as a result of the “N Word,” the use of which, by a teacher, in context, should not have resulted in the teacher's punishment.

Should Revenge Porn Be Illegal? Victims Say Yes, and so Does the California Legislature

Justia columnist and attorney Julie Hilden comments on “revenge porn,” which occurs when a person agrees to provide nude photos to his or her partner during a relationship, but after the breakup, the partner posts the nude photos online, at times connected to the partner’s name or other information. Hilden notes that California now has a relevant law on this topic, but some think that the law is not sufficiently strong.

Some Flaws in California’s New Law Regarding Paparazzi’s Harassment of Celebrities’ Children

Justia columnist and attorney Julie Hilden comments on an updated California law that protects celebrities' children from the paparazzi, with penalties of jail time and hefty fines. Hilden suggests that the new law ignores serious First Amendment concerns, and that civil remedies, rather than criminal sanctions, might have been enough, particularly in light of those concerns.

When Is a Public School Student’s Online Speech About School Violence Cause for Concern?

Justia columnist and attorney Julie Hilden comments on a recent Ninth Circuit case regarding the tension between the right to free speech and fears that such speech might spur school violence. Another issue that the case raises is whether the well-known Tinker test for public school student speech needs to be modified or augmented in the Internet Age.

Does the First Amendment Protect Begging?

Justia columnist and attorney Julie Hilden comments on the U.S Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit’s decision invalidating Michigan’s criminal anti-begging statute. The ACLU successfully argued in court that begging is protected, as speech, by the First Amendment. Hilden agrees with the ruling, but also raises the more difficult question of aggressive begging’ and how it can be regulated to strike an appropriate free speech balance.

Was a Tennessee Judge Right to Reject a Child’s Parents’ Choice of the Name “Messiah” for Their Baby Boy?

Justia columnist and attorney Julie Hilden comments on a Tennessee case in which a magistrate overrode a child's parents' wish to name their child "Messiah," based on the magistrate's own religious convictions. Hilden argues that the magistrate was out of line in her decision, which Hilden contends should be reversed, as does the Tennessee ACLU.

A Colorado Case Raises Key Questions About When a Demonstration Becomes A Private Nuisance, and How Much Gory Material Children Should Be Able to Be Exposed To

Justia columnist and attorney Julie Hilden comments on a recent Colorado case which raises two very interesting questions: When does a protest become a private nuisance? And, is it legal to expose young children to gory and disturbing images? The case at issue arose from protests near a church, in which protesters' signs included some that depicted graphic images of aborted fetuses. Hilden describes the factors that divide a protest from a mere public nuisance, and considers whether, in the Internet Age, young people may be more inured to graphic images that would have shocked their parents when they were their children's age.

The Boycott of the Upcoming Ender’s Game Film: Is It Justified?

Justia columnist and attorney Julie Hilden comments on the movement toward a boycott of the Lionsgate film Ender’s Game—which will premiere in November—due to the homophobic views of the author, Orson Scott Card, on whose book the film will be based. Hilden considers the responses to the controversy from Lionsgate, and from Card himself, and finds them wanting—especially Card’s. Hilden also notes that while Card’s bestselling books often and movingly invoke empathy for the other, Card, ironically, seems to have little empathy for GLBT people.

A College Student Prevails on a First Amendment Claim Based on His Peaceful Protest on the Supreme Court Plaza

Justia columnist and attorney Julie Hilden comments on a decision by U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell in favor of a man who protested on the Supreme Court Plaza, and was arrested as a result. Hilden agrees with Judge Howell that the statute under which the protester was charged was unconstitutional in that it violated the First Amendment, and explains why.

Texas’s New Retraction Statute: Why This Strongly Pro-First Amendment Measure Should Be Passed Into Law

Justia columnist and attorney Julie Hilden comments on a new Texas measure that will become law if Governor Rick Perry signs it. As Hilden explains, the bill at issue—a kind of retraction statute—would allow publishers to limit the damages that can be received by plaintiffs in libel lawsuits if the plaintiffs at issue did not request a correction to, or a retraction of, the offending material. Hilden praises the bill, but also asks whether, with so many and varied media, and the pervasive influence of Google searches in amassing facts and viewpoints on a particular topic, we still need retraction statutes at all.

The Newtown School Massacre; Connecticut’s New, Related Law; and How Such Laws Might Change in the Future

Justia columnist and attorney Julie Hilden comments on the new Connecticut law, banning the release of crime-scene photos and videos from the tragic massacre that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut. Hilden covers the key Supreme Court decision related to the new law, and questions whether future generations—acclimated to Facebook and to broad disclosure of personal material—may change the default rules in this area of law, and if so, how.