Egypt's High Constitutional Court (Photo: Mai Shaheen)
Egypt's High Constitutional Court (HCC) referred a pending lawsuit against the constitutionality of the Shura Council (the upper house of parliament, currently endowed with full legislative powers) to the State Commissioners' Board – the HCC's advisory board – on Tuesday.
The HCC also postponed proceedings in the ongoing case regarding the law that regulates membership of Egypt's Constituent Assembly (which drafted Egypt's recently-approved constitution) to 3 February.
On Tuesday, dozens of activists converged on the HCC in Cairo's Maadi district with the ostensible aim of safeguarding the court building from potential disruption in advance of a final verdict.
The People's Assembly, the lower house of Egypt's parliament, was dissolved last summer after the HCC ruled against its constitutionality.
Last November, President Mohamed Morsi issued a presidential decree making both the Constituent Assembly and Shura Council immune from dissolution by court order and temporarily steeling his decisions against judicial appeal.
The move prompted hundreds of thousands to take to the streets to protest both the Constituent Assembly's proposed constitution and Morsi's controversial decree.
This decree was later replaced with a second one that did not put Morsi's decisions beyond the reach of judicial appeal.
In response, Morsi supporters laid siege to the HCC to prevent judges from ruling on the Shura Council's constitutionality, leading the court to indefinitely freeze all its activity.
"We will not forget the unlawful siege [of the HCC]," court head Judge Maher El-Beheiry said at the beginning of Tuesday's session. "The court will remain the guardian of the constitution and the law."