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Republicans "can't just simply stonewall" nominees to the Supreme Court even if the president making the choice is Democrat Hillary Clinton, says the GOP chairman of the Judiciary Committee in a reaffirmation of the Senate's advise-and-consent role on judicial picks.

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley's comments on Tuesday was a response to fellow Republican Sen. John McCain, who a day earlier vowed that Republicans would unite against any nominee Clinton puts forward if she becomes president. That unprecedented pledge raised the possibility that the Supreme Court would have to operate for four years of a Clinton term with one or more vacancies, rather than nine justices.

The court has had one vacancy for months since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. Republicans have refused to consider President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland, arguing that the next president should fill the opening.

"I think we have a responsibility to very definitely vet — if you want to use the word vet — whoever nominee that person puts forward," Grassley told radio reporters in Iowa. "We have the same responsibility for (Donald) Trump. We know more the type of people Trump would nominate because he's listed 20. They fall into the category of strict constructionists. As I heard about Hillary on the last debate, the type of people she's going to appoint, I would say they're judicial activists."

He added that the new president should make the choice and "if that new president happens to be Hillary. We can't just simply stonewall."

McCain's comments came in an interview with Philadelphia talk radio host Dom Giordano to promote the candidacy of Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., one of the more vulnerable GOP incumbents as Republicans scramble to hold onto their Senate majority.

Attorneys for landowners along a crude oil pipeline that ruptured in Arkansas in 2013 say Exxon Mobil Pipeline Co. breached its contract because the pipeline interferes with their ability to enjoy their property.

Attorneys for the landowners and Exxon Mobil appeared Wednesday before judges from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Minnesota.

The landowners asked the appeals court to reinstate their case, which was dismissed last year, and have it re-certified as a class-action suit. Attorney Phillip Duncan says it's an issue of honoring easements.

Exxon Mobil attorney Gary Marts said the case was properly dismissed. He says landowners are essentially trying to regulate pipeline safety through a lawsuit - but that's the job of a federal agency.

The Pegasus Pipeline runs through Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois and Texas.

Pakistan's Supreme Court Thursday sought a reply from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in response to several petitions seeking his resignation over a financial scandal involving his family.

The court gave Sharif two weeks to submit his response, Sharif's aides and opposition leaders told reporters outside the courthouse.

The premier has been under pressure from the opposition to step down because his family members were named as holders of offshore bank accounts in leaked financial documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

One of the petitions has come from the opposition party of cricketer turned politician Imran Khan who is threatening to bring tens of thousands of protesters to the capital, Islamabad, on Nov. 2 to press for Sharif's disqualification. This was the first step to make the prime minister answerable to the law, Khan said. "We wanted to have it settled in parliament, but the prime minister didn't present himself there for accountability."

He said the court proceedings didn't mean that he would postpone the street rallies.

Sharif's aide and Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said the government was ready to be transparent and accountable. "We will never escape," he said. "We're ready for accountability at any forum."

Another of Sharif's ministers Khawaja Saad Rafique said there was no reason for any more protest rallies now that the country's top court had taken up the issue.

A Lithuanian court has called former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to testify in a mass trial related to the 1991 crackdown on the country's independence movement.

Gorbachev and Russian authorities haven't answered previous requests so it's unlikely he would comply with Monday's request from the Vilnius district court.

The case involves more than 60 former Soviet officials charged with war crimes and other offenses for their roles in a crackdown on pro-independence demonstrators that left 14 people dead in January 1991, when Gorbachev was still in power.

The judges approved a request by one of the plaintiffs in the case to call Gorbachev to the court as a witness.

Only two defendants are present in court. Others, mainly citizens of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, are being tried in absentia.

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