Preserving and Adapting Egypt’s Liberal Tradition
This chapter studies the emergence of liberal constitutionalism in Egypt. It examines the historical foundations of Egyptian liberalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and observes that this conception of governance became tightly integrated into the development of the legal profession. As a consequence, lawyers and judges became the most dedicated advocates of liberal reform. The Bar Association played a leading role in promoting the liberal cause for most of the twentieth century. However, changes in its membership and steady regime repression eventually fragmented the Bar and undermined its effectiveness. The judiciary, in contrast, has retained a strong sense of liberal identity and has developed a robust conception of liberal constitutionalism. In order to understand this approach to law and politics, the chapter studies the decisions of Egypt's major courts (the Supreme Constitutional Court, the administrative courts, and the Court of Cassation). It uses this body of jurisprudence to analyze the judiciary's views with regard to four core elements of constitutionalism: the rule of law, constraints on state power, protection of basic rights, and public participation in governance.
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