Robert Shelby

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Robert James Shelby
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Court Information:
United States District Court for the District of Utah
Title:   Judge
Position:   Seat #1
Appointed by:   Barack Obama
Active:   9/22/2012-present
Preceded by:   Tena Campbell
Past post:   Attorney, private practice
Past term:   2000-2012
Personal History
Born:   March 13, 1970
Hometown:   Wisconsin
Undergraduate:   Utah State U., B.A., 1944
Law School:   University of Virginia Law, J.D., 1948
Military service:   Utah Army National Guard, 1988-1996; Combat engineer, Operation Desert Storm
Robert James Shelby is a judge for the United States District Court for the District of Utah. He was confirmed to the United States District Court for the District of Utah by the U.S. Senate on September 21, 2012 and received commission on September 25, 2012.[1][2]

Early life and education

Shelby earned his B.A. in 1994 from Utah State University and went on to earn his J.D. four years later from the University of Virginia School of Law.[3][1]

Professional career

Judicial career

District of Utah nomination

Nomination Tracker
 Candidate:Robert Shelby
 Court:District of Utah
 Progress:Confirmed 297 days after nomination.
ApprovedAABA Rating:Unanimously Qualified

Obama nominated Shelby on November 30, 2011 to the United States District Court for the District of Utah to fill the vacancy left by Tena Campbell.[4]

Throughout their careers, these nominees have displayed unwavering commitment to justice and integrity. Their records of service to the public and the legal profession are distinguished and impressive and I am confident that they will serve the American people well from the United States District Court bench. I am honored to nominate them today.


—President Barack Obama, [3]

Shelby was rated Unanimously Qualified by the American Bar Association.[6] He had a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 28, 2012 and you can find his Committee Questionnaire available here and his Questions for the Record available here.[7]

On September 22, 2012 the United States Senate confirmed Robert Shelby to an Article III post for the United States District Court for the District of Utah with a voice vote.[8][9]

Notable cases

Utah's ban on same-sex marriage overturned (2013)

     United States District Court for the District of Utah (Kitchen, et al v. Herbert, et al, 2:13-cv-217)

On December 20, 2013, Judge Shelby struck down Utah's ban on same-sex marriage, declaring the statute unconstitutional. In the underlying case, three gay and lesbian couples filed suit on March 23, 2013, claiming that the state's voter-approved ballot referendum prohibiting same-sex marriage, as well as the state's failure to recognize same-sex marriages performed outside its boundaries, infringed upon their constitutional rights to due process and equal protection. On December 4, 2013, Shelby heard oral arguments on the case, where attorneys for the state defended its ban on same-sex marriage by offering evidence of Utah's interest in "responsible procreation" and an "optimal mode of child-rearing." Attorneys for the plaintiffs countered by arguing that choice of marriage partner is a constitutionally protected liberty interest. Two weeks later, Shelby struck down Utah's ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional, finding that it "demean[ed] the dignity of ... same-sex couples for no rational reason."[10][11][12][13][14][15]

On December 22, 2013, Utah filed an appeal of Shelby's ruling with the Tenth Circuit, along with a request for an emergency stay of Shelby's ruling to halt same-sex marriages pending the appeal. On December 24, 2013, the Tenth Circuit denied the stay. On December 31, 2013, Utah filed an emergency application for a stay of Shelby's ruling with the Supreme Court, where Justice Sonia Sotomayor is designated to handle such requests from states within the Tenth Circuit's jurisdiction. Gay marriage supporters asked that Sotomayor refuse to uphold Utah's ban, but on January 6, 2014, after she referred the matter to all nine justices of the high court, the Supreme Court blocked Shelby's decision pending the resolution of Utah's appeal. The Supreme Court's order is available here. On January 8, 2014, Utah announced that it would not recognize any of the same-sex marriages that were performed prior to the date the Supreme Court issued its stay, thus putting the unions into legal limbo.[16][17][18][19][20]

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, "Shelby, Robert James"
  2. Associated Press, "Shelby confirmed by Senate as Utah federal judge," September 23, 2012
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "President Obama Nominates Three to Serve on the US District Court Bench" 11/30/2011
  4. The White House, "Presidential Nominations Sent to the Senate" November 30, 2011
  5. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  6. American Bar Association, "Ratings of Article III Judicial Nominees: 112th Congress," accessed April 25, 2014
  7. Senate Judiciary Committee, "112th Congress Nomination Materials," accessed April 25, 2014
  8. Senate Judiciary Committee, "Report on the Activities of the Senate Judiciary Committee, 112th Congress," archived April 1, 2014
  9. United States Senate, "United States Periodic Press Gallery,"
  10. Deseret News, "Utah among several states with marriage laws under legal challenge," March 26, 2013
  11. Deseret News, "Challenge to Utah's same-sex marriage ban," December 4, 2013
  12. KSL TV, "Federal judge overturns Utah same-sex marriage ban," December 22, 2013
  13. MSNBC, "Utah officials request emergency stay over gay marriage ruling," December 22, 2013
  14. Associated Press, "Federal Court: No Halt to Gay Marriages in Utah," December 24, 2013
  15. Los Angeles Times, "Utah vows to appeal gay marriage ruling to Supreme Court," December 24, 2013
  16. Reuters, "Utah seeks U.S. Supreme Court suspension of gay marriage ruling," December 31, 2013
  17. Washington Post, "Gay marriage supporters ask Sotomayor to reject Utah’s request for a ban," January 3, 2014
  18. New York Times, "Justices Block Gay Marriage in Utah During Appeal of Case," January 6, 2014
  19. Washington Times, "Supreme Court puts gay marriage on hold in Utah," January 6, 2014
  20. New York Times, "Utah Says It Won’t Recognize Same-Sex Marriages It Licensed," January 8, 2014
Political offices
Preceded by:
Tena Campbell
District of Utah
Seat #1
Succeeded by: