"Who are these X-Men? What gives them the right to take the law into their own hands!"
Senator Robert Kelly was first seen at a social gathering hosted by the Hellfire Club, where an illusion projected by the mutant villain Mastermind caused him to believe he had witnessed the X-Man Cyclops firing randomly into a crowd. He was the primary backer of the Mutant Control Act and Project: Wideawake, a government program aimed at creating updated Sentinel robots that would help track down and, if necessary, detain or kill violent mutants. He played a central role in the Days of Future Past. The entire plot revolved around the X-Men stopping Mystique and her Brotherhood of Evil Mutants from assassinating Senator Kelly and thus inadvertently causing a dystopian future where mutants and other heroes were hunted down and nearly totally eliminated. When he next appeared, he was married to Sharon, a former maid who worked in the Hellfire Club. Kelly, in a meeting with Sebastian Shaw, was shocked when his wife walked in wearing her old, servant garb as a bit of fun. She was genuinely apologetic, saying she would not have done such a thing if it hadn't been just him and Shaw. Sharon was killed the next issue, shot by the mutant-hunting robot known as Master Mold during a battle between Master Mold and Rogue. This further incited Robert's stance against mutantkind. Kelly remained an active anti-mutant activist in the comics, but slowly became more open-minded and tolerant towards the mutant population, promising the X-Men he would work for the rights of mutants. After his life was saved by the mutant Pyro in an attack (this was when Pyro was infected with the Legacy Virus, the subsequent use of his powers culminating in his death as he saved Kelly from his old teammate Post), Kelly vowed to reconsider his standing on mutants and work towards improving human/mutant relations. Despite being guarded by the X-Man Cable, he was not long afterwards assassinated at a college rally (where he was speaking at the time) by the anti-mutant activist Alan Lewis who felt that Senator Kelly betrayed their anti-mutant cause. He died in Cable's arms, Cable having been too occupied with a 'meeting' on the astral plane to realise the danger to Kelly before it was too late.
- The fictional name of the character Robert Kelly was chosen by Chris Claremont in honor of his Bard College professor, the poet Robert Kelly. The latter has confirmed the coincidence between the two names in interviews among his students.