As head of the Office of Legal Counsel, Seitz, 57, is the top legal advice-giver in the administration. She is the first woman to hold the post, which has become contentious (it's where the so-called torture memos originated in the George W. Bush administration). In 2011, Seitz became the first confirmed head of OLC since 2004. She previously worked for a dozen years in the Supreme Court practice of Sidley Austin and, before that, at Bredhoff & Kaiser. Among her clients was the Major League Baseball Players Association. A Rhodes scholar, she also clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice William Brennan after graduating from Duke University and then Buffalo Law School, where she was first in her class. "Virginia doesn't like to talk about herself—or her many achievements," Attorney General Eric Holder said at her swearing-in. OLC has been at the center of the drone debate, as the Obama administration has tried to define when and how the unmanned aircraft can be deployed. And Seitz's tenure has not been without controversy, especially with regard to a legal opinion allowing the president to make recess appointments when Congress was out of town but not technically in recess. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, called the opinion "wholly erroneous" and threatened that Seitz's post is "likely to be the last confirmation that she'll ever experience." The job has been a stepping-stone for others, including Ted Olson, who became solicitor general; Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia; and the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
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