Egypt courts suspend work to protest presidential decree

Egypt courts suspend work to protest presidential decree

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[JURIST] The Egyptian Court of Cassation on Wednesday suspended work until President Mohammed Morsi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] rescinds a decree he issued [JURIST report] last week that removes judicial review of his actions and vastly expands his power, according to Egypt’s state television. In addition to these highest appeals courts, the lower appeals courts have resolved to suspend work [AP report] as well. The nation’s Supreme Constitutional Court also announced its discontent with Morsi’s decree on Wednesday, calling the move an attack on the judiciary [Reuters report]. Morsi’s decree extends protection from judicial review to the lower chamber of parliament and to a panel charged with drafting the nation’s new constitution. These legislators are largely composed of Muslim Brotherhood (MB) [party website, in Arabic; JURIST news archive] members and Islamists.

Tension between Egypt’s judiciary and the administration has persisted despite the overthrow of former president Hosni Mubarak last year. Morsi agreed to meet with the judges [JURIST report] earlier this week to discuss the decree. In August a lawyer in Egypt filed an appeal challenging a declaration by Morsi granting himself complete legislative and executive power [JURIST reports]. In July, a few days after he was sworn in, Morsi issued a decree [JURIST reports] calling the Egyptian parliament back into session, despite a previous ruling by the country’s Supreme Constitutional Court [official website] dissolving parliament after finding that one-third of its members were elected illegally. The court suspended Morsi’s decree two days later, after which Morsi vowed that he would respect the ruling [JURIST reports]. Days before its dissolution, the Egyptian parliament elected a new constitutional council after lawmakers finally reached an agreement [JURIST reports] on the political composition of the council. In April the country’s Administrative Court temporarily suspended [JURIST report] the work of the Egyptian Constituent Assembly after ruling in favor of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the formation of the panel.