Conservative Senators – #6 – Richard Shelby


Heritage Ranking: 99%
American Conservative Union Ranking: 88%
Conservative Review Ranking: 66%

Childhood and Education: Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama was born in May, 1934. Four previous generations of his family had resided in Alabama. He attended college in his home state, graduating with a B.A. from the University of Alabama in 1957. He enrolled in Birmingham School of Law at the University of Alabama and earned an LL.B in 1963.

Family Life: In 1960, Richard Shelby married the former Annette Nevin. They have two children and are Presbyterians. The Shelby family resides in Tuscaloosa.

Early Career: Richard Shelby worked as a municipal prosecutor in Tuscaloosa between 1963 and 1971. He won election as a Democrat to the Alabama State Senate, serving there for eight years, before deciding to run for Congress. He also gained experience working in the federal court system while serving as the U.S. Magistrate for the Northern District of Alabama and briefly, as a Special Assistant State Attorney.

Between 1979 and 1987, Richard Shelby served in the United States House of Representatives as a Democratic Congressman representing Alabama’s 7th District. During the Reagan Administration, he frequently cooperated with Republicans in Congress on defense-related issues.

Senate Career: During the 1986 election, Congressman Shelby campaigned for a position in the United States Senate. He won the race, and has served continuously in the U.S. Senate since January 3, 1987, winning a number of re-election contests.

Senator Shelby opposed the nomination of Robert Bork to serve on the U. S. Supreme Court. However, he frequently agreed with Republicans about issues during the George H. W. Bush and Clinton Administrations. On November 9, 1994, he made the decision to switch his political party membership and become a Republican. He has won re-election as a Republican several times and remains a very popular Senator from Alabama. In September, 2009, polls indicated that he enjoyed an approval rating of 58%.

Senator Shelby currently serves as the Chairman of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. He also serves on the Appropriations Committee and he is a member of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.

A foe of abortion, he tends to cast conservative votes on social issues and to support a smaller federal government. In the past, he has voted to allocate funds to law enforcement. His votes also have supported upholding the Second Amendment.

Committee Assignments:

Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs

Committee on Appropriations

Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science
Subcommittee on Defense
Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development
Subcommittee on Homeland Security
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education & Related Agencies
Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies

Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs

Committee on Rules and Administration

These rankings were compiled and primarily based upon rankings from the Heritage Action(the 501c4 arm of the Heritage Foundation) Scorecard and secondarily using rankings from the American Conservative Union and Conservative Review scorecards. Please note: These rankings are subject to change over time as a politician’s voting record changes. We encourage you to visit the sites listed above for more detailed and current information.