Why suspend the Egyptian constitution?

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s military rulers took sweeping action to dismantle the autocratic legacy of former President Hosni Mubarak on Sunday, dissolving parliament, suspending the constitution and promising elections in moves cautiously welcomed by prodemocracy protesters.

What would happen if they didn’t suspend it? When there’s mob rule who cares about the niceties of a constitution?

WAG: When you’re struggling for freedom against a brutal, oppressive regime and you win, one of the first things you’re going to do is strike down the oppressive laws and systems of the regime and put something in place that’s more in line with your goals.

Just like after the American revolution, where our founders created a constitution that guaranteed the people many freedoms (freedom of religion, the right to criticize govt/politicians, freedom of speech, etc) that they didn’t have under the previous system.

IANAD (I Am Not A Dictator) but constitutions spell out the roles of the various institutions such as parliament, the executive branch and the courts. Since the army is taking order and preventing the situation from breaking down into mob rule, it suspends the constitution and assumes all of the above roles itself.

The question is if elections are really held and the constitution is restored or replaced or if the military continues to rule.

Now, there is the question of whether the military has the Constitutional authority to suspend the Constitution, but apparently that was settled out of court.

I’m pretty sure Egypt’s Constitution says that Mubarak’s resignation puts Suleiman in power. In order for the army to be in control at all it has to suspend the Constitution.

But, as others have said, it’s not like the Constitution is a beloved document in Egypt the way it is in the US.

BBC TV mentioned something about the Egyptian constitution being specifically designed to have Mubarak’s son succeed him in office.

They are in a transition phase.

They have rejected the previous regime and want a new one. The current government is now defunct. There is no “law”. In a society that is anarchy and that is really bad to have.

So, the military stepped in as a stop-gap and suspended the constitution. Legally they could not claim a right to run things under that constitution anyway. So, just say it is void till a new one is created. One thing is clear, the people will not abide the current one anyway.

Unfortunately for the Egyptians their revolution has gone like this:

Step 1: Revolution
Step 2: ???
Step 3: Profit!

I have my fingers crossed for the Egyptians but honestly that is about what the protesters had in mind and there is huge opportunity for this to go wrong in any number of ways.

I am not religious by any means but I pray for them (in a generic sorta way).

Believe it or not, this sort of thing has been tested in the courts before. Actually, you might well believe it, but in at least one case (in Fiji) the courts ruled that the unilateral abrogation of the constitution was of no effect… and the government accepted the ruling! Unfortunately that was one or two coups back, but I’ve seen the case (the name of which I’ve lost my note of :mad:) cited in a British textbook on constitutional law.

Ultimately, of course, the law is decided by the winner in this sort of situation. If it weren’t, us Brits would have to request Obama hand our thirteen colonies back! :slight_smile:

There is indeed an established body of “revolutionary” law, curiously enough, and the Fiji cases are part of it. Problems emerge when a government is overthrown or otherwise delegitimised - what happens to all the low level stuff, like house sales and driver licences and liquor licences and health inspection approvals for restaurants and all the other myriad decisions made by governments? In the South during the Civil War, did the illegitimacy of the government mean that all decisions made pursuant to its authority were bad?

The answer is no, but the line between which decisions are protected and which are not is not always easy to determine.

As to the OP, my understanding is that the Egyptian Constitution set out power structures in such a way as to make them self-perpetuating. Without realigning those power structures, business as usual would continue forever no matter who was in charge. It’s a bit like having gerrymandered electoral boundaries so that the incumbent’s can’t lose.