The Muslim Brotherhood and another Islamist group, the ultraconservative Salafis, won more than 70 percent of parliament in a free election around the start of the year. The parliament, according to Egypt's interim constitution, is tasked with forming a panel to write the constitution. Twice, liberals walked away from panels formed by the Islamist-controlled parliament, saying the panels are packed with Islamists and voicing fears that Egypt's new constitution would end up more Islamic.
However, two days before the June 16-17 presidential runoff, the ruling council dissolved parliament after a court determined that the parliamentary elections were illegal. As polls closed on June 17, the SCAF issued a declaration of constitutional amendments that gave the ruling military legislative power and control over the process of drafting the constitution.
They also declared a new body, The National Defense Council, dominated by generals with a wide mandate to decide security, military and foreign affairs.
Hossam Bahgat, a human rights activist and head of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, said the court decision Tuesday gives Morsi and other mediators ammunition in their battle with the ruling generals to argue that the decisions to entrench military power are unlawful and can be challenged. Bahgat said the military decisions started as a "power grab and effectively transformed into a military coup."
"Today is the first time we get the judiciary pushing against one of the three pillars of this coup," he said. "Today's decision should and could empower the president to explain in the clearest terms that what the [generals] are asking for is against the law."
There are other pending court cases against all the military's recent decisions.
But on Tuesday, Morsi also suffered a setback in his power struggle with the military. Attempts to reverse some of the military council's decrees were stalled after the Cairo Administrative Court postponed a ruling to July 7 on the legality of dissolving the 498-member parliament.
The case was brought by lawmakers.
In the absence of a parliament, Morsi must take his oath of office before the Constitutional Court, which was behind the ruling that recommended dissolving the Brotherhood-led parliament.
If Morsi takes the oath in front of the court, it will undermine him in the eyes of many, especially those who staged a sit-in for a week in Cairo's Tahrir Square against the military's power grab.