CAIRO — The Egyptian judiciary dug in its heels on Wednesday, as a growing chorus of top judicial officials vowed to stand firm against a sweeping decree issued by Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi last week.
The Constitutional Court accused the Islamist president of participating in an attack on the courts by issuing a “constitutional declaration” in which he claimed the power to legislate without judicial oversight.
Judicial authorities held emergency meetings on Wednesday, a day after after tens of thousands of liberals, secularists, and old regime loyalists poured into Cairo’s Tahrir Square, calling for Morsi to back down. Opposition protesters also clashed with the president’s supporters in cities in Egypt’s Nile Delta.
“The court will not be intimidated by any threats or blackmail, and will not submit to any pressures practiced on it from any direction, regardless of its power and unity,” Maher Samy, the Constitutional Court’s spokesman, said at a news conference. “The court is ready to face all of this no matter the heavy cost or high price, even if that requires the lives of its judges.”
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The Court of Cassation and at least two major appeals courts said they would suspend their work until Morsi rescinded his edict. The constitutional court vowed to examine the legality of the president’s power grab.
Egypt’s judges’ club — an influential union of some of the country’s top judges — went on strike last week, following the declaration.
Morsi, backed by the powerful Islamist Muslim Brotherhood from which he hails, has appeared unwilling to back down, even as the political stalemate dragged on for a sixth day on Wednesday.
Morsi and his supporters say the decree was necessary to safeguard the democratic gains of Egypt’s uprising. The declaration included the removal of the country’s deeply unpopular, Mubarak-appointed general prosecutor, and the entrenchment of the country’s embattled constitution drafting committee against the possibility of a court-ordered dissolution.
Protesters clashed with Brotherhood supporters and attacked several of the group’s…