Revolutions have many battlefields, and the Egyptian uprising of 2011 was no different: it took place most famously in the streets and public squares of Egyptian cities, but it also played out inside public buildings, on the airwaves, on television talk shows, and within homes.1 In this sense, for all its drama, the uprising was not unusual. But its aftermath was more atypical because of the rapidity with which post-uprising politics moved into court rooms, generated lawsuits, expressed itself in legal forms, and indeed quickly took the shape of complex legal and constitutional knots. The fate of two deposed presidents was handed to ordinary criminal courts rather than any revolutionary tribunal; major decisions about the course of political reconstruction were made by the administrative courts and the Supreme Constitutional Court. When in July 2013 the military deposed the president elected by the people a year earlier, the figure placed temporarily in his stead—acting, the military claimed, on popular demand—was the chief justice of the Constitutional Court. Throughout the tumultuous events, leading political positions—the vice presidency, the chairmanship of the Constituent Assembly—were awarded to former judges. A critical political relationship—between the presidency and the military—was managed by dueling constitutional declarations and texts (in which the presidents’ text trumped that of the generals in 2012 only to be overturned in 2013) until a freshly retired general finally assumed the presidency in June 2014.
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