At a Glance
- Career History: Special Assistant to U.S. Attorney General (1969 to 1971); U.S. Magistrate (1966 to 1970); City Prosecutor, Tuscaloosa (1963 to 1971)
- Birthday: May 6, 1934
- Hometown: Tuscaloosa, Ala.
- Alma Mater: University of Alabama, B.A., 1957; University of Alabama, LL.B, 1963
- Spouse: Annette
- Religion: Presbyterian
- DC Office: 110 House Senate Office Building, 202-224-5744
- State Office: Birmingham, 256-731-1384; Huntsville, 256-772-0460; Mobile, 251-694-4164; Montgomery, 334-223-7303; Tuscaloosa, 205-759-5047
- Web site
Path To Power
Born May 6, 1934, in Birmingham, Ala., Shelby was the son of Alice L. Skinner and Ozie Houston Shelby, a steelworker. He attended the University of Alabama, graduating with a bachelor's degree in journalism in 1957 and a law degree in 1963.
Shelby was admitted to the Alabama Bar in 1961 and started a law practice in his hometown of Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 1963 with the late Walter Flowers, who later was a conservative Democratic congressman. In 1966, Shelby was appointed U.S. commissioner for the northern district of Alabama and, in 1970, he was elected as a Democrat to the Alabama state Senate.
A gun control and abortion-rights opponent, Shelby votes moderately Republican but strays on some key issues. Shelby was the only Senate Republican to vote against the deregulation of the financial services sector in 1999 and he has opposed plans to limit damage awards from lawsuits. A member of the Appropriations Committee and the Special Committee on Aging, Shelby opposes gay marriage, supports drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge and is a proponent of the flat tax.
He has also called for greater oversight of the FBI; increased coverage and borrowing authority for flood victims in light of Hurricane Katrina; and supported many Bush administration anti-terrorism policies, including the monitoring of private financial transactions.
Campaign finance disclosure reports show that Shelby has given thousands of dollars, through his Tuscaloosa-based Defend America political action committee, to his Republican colleagues. Shelby was also a member of the Boll Weevils, a group of Reagan-supporting, conservative Democrats in the 1970s and 80s, along with longtime former Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas).
Several of Shelby's former chiefs of staff have gone on to other prominent roles in government.