Robert J. Shelby

Robert James "Bob" Shelby (born March 13, 1970)[1] is the Chief United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Utah.

Robert J. Shelby
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Utah
Assumed office
Preceded byDavid Nuffer
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Utah
Assumed office
September 25, 2012
Appointed byBarack Obama
Preceded byTena Campbell
Personal details
Robert James Shelby

(1970-03-13) March 13, 1970 (age 50)
Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin
Political partyRepublican
EducationUtah State University (B.A.)
University of Virginia School of Law (J.D.)


Shelby was born in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.[1] He served in the 19th Special Forces Group, 1457th Combat Engineer Battalion of the Utah Army National Guard from 1988 to 1996, and was on active duty during Operation Desert Storm. He received several military awards for his service, including the United States Army Achievement Medal for Desert Storm and the National Defense Service Medal.[2] He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1994 from Utah State University and his Juris Doctor in 1998 from the University of Virginia School of Law. In 1999 he served as a law clerk for District Judge J. Thomas Greene of the United States District Court for the District of Utah. He was an associate at Snow, Christensen & Martineau from 2000 to 2005. From 2005 to 2011, he was an associate at Burbridge, Mitchell & Gross. From 2011 to 2012, he again practiced at Snow, Christensen & Martineau as a shareholder. His practice focused on complex commercial litigation and catastrophic personal injury cases on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants.[3] Shelby served on the Salt Lake County Bar Association's Executive Committee since 2002, and as its vice chairman since 2011. He served on the Utah Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Rules of Civil Procedure and its Ethics and Discipline Committee.[2] He lives in Salt Lake City with his wife, Angela, and their two children.[2] He is a registered Republican.[4][5]

Federal judicial serviceEdit

On November 30, 2011, President Obama nominated Robert J. Shelby to be District Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Utah,[3] replacing Judge Tena Campbell who took senior status in 2011. He received a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 28, 2012 and his nomination was reported to the floor on April 26, 2012, by voice vote. Both Senators from Utah, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, endorsed his nomination, with Sen. Lee describing Shelby as "pre-eminently qualified" and predicting that he would be "an outstanding judge."[6] Hatch highly lauded Shelby: "A man of keen intellect, Robert Shelby...has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the law".[7] In the early hours of September 22, 2012, on what was officially still the legislative day of September 21, the Senate confirmed Shelby in a voice vote. He received his commission on September 25, 2012.[5] He became Chief Judge in 2018.

Notable decisionsEdit

On December 20, 2013, Judge Shelby struck down Amendment 3 of Utah’s State Constitution, which defined marriage as a union solely between a man and a woman, opening the way for same-sex marriage in the state. He found that Amendment 3 was in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which guarantees due process and equal protection.[8] This highly significant ruling set off a series of other district court decisions that overturned bans in several other states. His ruling was affirmed by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals on June 25, 2014. On October 6, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court declined the review the Tenth Circuit's ruling, legalizing same-sex marriage in Utah.


  1. ^ a b "Profile: Robert J. Shelby". August 10, 2010. Retrieved December 21, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "Confirmation Hearings on Federal Appointments". Senate Hearing 112–72 (pt. 7). U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved December 22, 2013. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ a b "Judicial Nominees: White House". November 30, 2011. Retrieved December 21, 2013.
  4. ^ Jack Healy (December 29, 2013). "Utah Judge Unexpected as a Hero to Gay People". New York Times.
  5. ^ a b "Shelby, Robert James – Federal Judicial Center".
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Hatch on Nomination of Robert Shelby to U. S. District Court for Utah – Press Releases – United States Senator Orrin Hatch".
  8. ^ Emiley Morgan. "Gay couples wed after federal judge overturns Utah's same-sex marriage ban". Retrieved December 21, 2013.

External linksEdit

Legal offices
Preceded by
Tena Campbell
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Utah
Preceded by
David Nuffer
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Utah