Jeffrey Fleishman and Reem Abdellatif of The Los Angeles Times report that protests flared in Egypt following President Morsi’s legal decree expanding his power, allowing him to to sidestep the courts and free his office of judicial oversight.”
David Kirkpatrick of The New York Times notes that government officials claimed that the “expansive new powers … [will] protect the process of writing the country’s new constitution, and that the decree would be in effect only until the charter was in place.” Mara Revkin at Foreign Policy explains that
[b]y shielding the constituent assembly from pending legal challenges seeking its dissolution, Morsi's decree virtually guarantees that the current constituent assembly will survive long enough to complete a draft, however flawed.
Sahar Aziz, an associate professor at the Texas Wesleyan School of Law, looks at Egypt’s constitutional drafting process for the Atlantic Council, noting that it
lays bare the diverse ideological currents in a nation often mistakenly portrayed as homogenous, or worse as a dichotomy lumping Muslims and Copts as diametrically opposed. Notwithstanding the packing of the constituent assembly with those favoring a significant role of religion in state affairs, the various alliances among liberal, Islamist, and other ideological groupings mirrors Egypt’s complex political landscape.
islawmix expert Noah Feldman argues in Bloomberg that the move was done “in the service of preserving electoral democracy,” though he agrees that Morsi “overreached and poorly explained” the decision.
There is good reason to think that the court was poised to dissolve the elected constituent assembly, just as it dissolved the parliament — one more step toward declaring the presidential election invalid and creating a constitutional coup d’etat against Mursi.
There is a serious problem in constitution-making since the Egyptian Revolution, which leaves the citizenry uncertain what the constitution is. The Egyptian president is simply carrying on the tradition of outrageous, “constitutional declarations” that led to the demise of the [Supreme Council of the Armed Forces].