Utah State University. University of Virginia School of Law.
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 his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1994 from Utah State University and his Juris Doctorate 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 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.
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.
He is a registered Republican.
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, 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 Senator.
Lee describing Shelby as "pre-eminently qualified" and predicting that he would be "an outstanding judge." Hatch highly lauded Shelby: "A man of keen intellect, Robert Shelby..has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the law".
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.
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 United States. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which guarantees due process and equal protection.
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 United States. Supreme Court declined the review the Tenth Circuit"s ruling, legalizing same-sex marriage in Utah.