NYT profiles Utah’s “activist judge”

Timothy Kincaid

December 30th, 2013

The New York Times has run an informative, though not particularly thorough, article about Judge Robert Shelby, the Federal judge who found that the state of Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage violated the US Constitution.

He had been a combat engineer in the Persian Gulf conflict and was, according to state voter records, a registered Republican. Senator Orrin G. Hatch, a seven-term Utah Republican, recommended him for a federal judgeship, calling him an experienced lawyer “with an unwavering commitment to the law.” Senator Mike Lee, a Tea Party Republican, said that Mr. Shelby was “pre-eminently qualified” and predicted he would be an outstanding judge.

He was active in the state and local bar associations, and was a leader in a group that mentors young trial lawyers. But he largely stayed out of the spotlight and away from politics. In 2010, he and his wife gave a $50 contribution to a Republican candidate for the State Legislature — the only political donation found in state and national campaign-finance databases.

Former colleagues said they did not know his religious background. The judge did not respond to emails and a phone call requesting an interview.


December 30th, 2013

A link to the NY Times article would have been nice. It’s at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/30/us/utah-ruling-on-marriage-puts-judge-in-spotlight.html

Lindoro Almaviva

December 30th, 2013

There’s been some questions asked in forums and apparently his wife has connections to LDS, though it is unknown whether she is still a practicing Mormon. According to the information I read (someone claiming to have gone to school with her) she was a very devout Mormon when they married, but he was not a member of the LDS.

Now, I take this because with a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of sugar and somer balsamic vinegar because 1. obviously, the source has not been vetted and this could have been all made up for all we know and 2. I do not know whether the LDS discourages their members to marry outside the faith and if they do, then what kind of repercussions could her marriage to a non-Mormon have?

Timothy Kincaid

December 30th, 2013

Thanks Ron, it’s fixed now.


December 30th, 2013

Agree that the article was informative–very interesting that he’s a registered Republican–but not very thorough. (The dateline “Denver” for an article about a resident of Utah is a clue that the reporting wasn’t very in-depth.) You’d think the Times would have spent a little more effort on what is a pretty important story.

Joseph Singer

December 31st, 2013

I’m not usually this way, but if I may be so shallow as to say that I think he’s hot! :)

Richard Rush

December 31st, 2013

Activist Judge: A judge who overturns the natural order of things by forcing a powerful majority to suffer the indignity of having to live in a society where a despised minority is granted full access to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” that has traditionally been reserved exclusively for themselves in recognition of their superiority.

Ben in Oakland

December 31st, 2013

Funny. The judges that said that money is speech, corporations are people, voting rights are not important for some people, and that public entities can take private property from one person and give it to another…

Are not judges who are overturning the natural order of things.

Regan DuCasse

December 31st, 2013

Judge Vaughn Walker also came from a more conservative background and his appointment came from a Repuplican, conservative President.

This is why these charges of ‘activist judge’ especially when it comes to laws concerning gay lives, belie reality.
As they inevitably will.

Timothy Kincaid

December 31st, 2013


yes, Judge Walker is a registered Republican.

In fact, many if not most of our more important judicial successes in marriage equality have come from Republican (or Republican appointed) Judges, starting with Massachusetts Chief Justice Margaret Marshall back in 2003.


January 2nd, 2014

Doesn’t surprise me.

While liberals and progressives have their own motivations for supporting gay equality, the fact is, marriage is a deeply held conservative principle to many conservatives.

We’re so used to expecting conservatives to be bigots that it can seem startling to find a non-bigot adhering to conservative principles and finding that LGBT people should be treated like citizens.

We’ll see more of this.

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