Martha Roby (1976- ) was elected in 2010 to represent Alabama’s Second Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Republican Roby has sponsored and co-sponsored a number of bills related to restricting abortion access and defunding Planned Parenthood and improving the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System. Her campaign platforms have been related to building a stronger economy, creating more jobs, and advocating for the Second Amendment and expansive gun rights, as well as protecting and increasing spending for the U.S. military.
Roby was born Martha Dubina in Montgomery, Montgomery County, on July 26, 1976, to Joel Frederick Dubina and Elizabeth (Beth) Gordy Dubina. Her father was a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals in the Eleventh Circuit that covers Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, and previously for the Middle District Court of Alabama. Roby graduated from Trinity Presbyterian School in her hometown of Montgomery in 1994. She attended New York University and obtained a bachelor of music degree in 1998; she then attended Samford University in Birmingham, Jefferson County, graduating with a law degree in 2001. She worked as a private lawyer in Montgomery at the Copeland Franco law firm prior to becoming involved in politics. She was elected to represent District 7 on the Montgomery City Council in 2003 and was one of the youngest members ever elected. During her time on the city council, Roby supported a tax increase on cigarette sales, opposed the privatization of household garbage disposal, and also opposed the building of a new shopping mall in Montgomery, along with then-mayor Bobby Bright and three other council members. She served until 2010, when she ran for Alabama’s Second Congressional District seat.
In the November 2010 general election, Roby narrowly defeated incumbent Democrat Bright with 51.1 percent of the vote to Bright’s 48.9 percent. Bright held the seat for one term, from 2009 to 2011. The congressional district consists of the southeastern part of the state, including Autauga, Barbour, Bullock, Coffee, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Elmore, Geneva, Henry, Houston, and Pike Counties and part of Montgomery County.
In general after 2010, Roby has handily won in both contested primaries and general elections. In the 2018 contest, Roby again defeated Bright, who was then running as a Republican, in the Republican primary, for the same seat he lost in 2010. She then won the general election with more than 60 percent of the vote. Her campaign themes and legislative involvement have a strong leaning towards the anti-abortion movement and defunding Planned Parenthood, advocating for the Second Amendment (she is a member of the National Rifle Association), and supporting veterans and opposing taxes on businesses.
Roby has served on the influential House Committee on Appropriations and its subcommittees related to military construction and veterans’ affairs, the Department of State and international aid, and the Departments of Commerce and Justice and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. She has also served on the House Judiciary Committee and as ranking member of its courts, intellectual property, and internet subcommittee. Roby has also been involved with several Congressional Caucuses, co-chairing the Congressional Army Aviation Caucus (the district includes Fort Novosel and Maxwell Air Force Base), the Congressional Peanut Caucus (an important crop in the Wiregrass), and the Congressional Defense Communities Caucus. She has been involved in the Caucus for Women’s Issues, House Army Caucus, Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, House Values Action Team, and others. In 2012, Roby served on the Select Committee that investigated events surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi and found no wrongdoing by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Early in her tenure, Roby served on the Agriculture, Armed Services, and Education and Workforce Committees.
Roby has sponsored and cosponsored more than 500 bills during her tenure in Congress. To benefit Alabama and her district, some legislation has focused on improving veterans’ health care in central Alabama by targeting mismanagement and misconduct. Roby sponsored the 2015 VA Medical Center Recovery Act in an effort to improve underperforming Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers and the 2016 Protection and Advocacy for Veterans Act to improve substance abuse programs for veterans. Neither was enacted. She received the “Minuteman of the Year” Award in Birmingham from the Alabama Reserve Officers Association in 2014 for helping to expose corruption and manipulation related to veteran health care and treatment, including long waits for appointments and falsifying records. As a result of these efforts, the director of the Central Alabama VA was fired.
She has supported many bills related to restricting abortion rights, including, the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act of 2018. In 2019, she has supported similar bills, including one that would make it illegal for a physician to perform an abortion on a fetus with a detectable heartbeat. (That May, Alabama enacted such a law, then considered one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the nation.) Roby also cosponsored the Defund Planned Parenthood Acts of 2015 and 2019 and opposed the awarding of federal family planning grants to organizations that provide abortion services.
Roby has also focused on improving the economy by helping working families. In the 113th and 114th Congresses, she sponsored the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013, 2015, and 2017, all of which would have provided certain types of employees with higher compensation for working overtime; none were enacted. In 2017, she supported the Save Local Business Act, sponsored by Alabama Representative Bradley Byrne, and the Employee Rights Act, sponsored by Tennessee Representative David Roe. Roby’s concern regarding families extends towards protecting children as well. Roby sponsored the Preventing Child Exploitation Act of 2018, which passed in the House, and cosponsored the Victims of Child Abuse Act Reauthorization Act of 2018, Securing America’s Future Act of 2018, and Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act of 2017, among others.
Roby is a loyal Republican politician, voting along party lines more than 90 percent of the time. She has voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), or “Obamacare,” multiple times. In 2017, Roby voted to repeal that act and pass the American Health Care Act in its stead. If enacted, it would have decreased the deficit by $119 billion over ten years by removing 23 million people from insurance over the same period. During the 2016 presidential election, Roby withdrew her initial support for Donald Trump as president, citing his sexually inappropriate comments and calling for him to step aside as the Republican nominee. After Trump was elected, however, Roby supported him once more, and Trump endorsed her for her 2018 election. Roby announced in July 2019 that she would not seek reelection.
Roby is married to corporate lawyer Riley Roby, and they have two children.