[P4905] Egypt's Judiciary Since the Revolution

Created by Jeffrey Sachs
Tuesday, 11/21/17 8:00am


This panel brings together four papers exploring the role of Egypt's post-revolutionary judiciary. Since 2011, Egyptian judges, lawyers, and legal activists have found themselves at the center of nearly every significant political event. In matters spanning election law, constitutional drafting, presidential powers, and the rights of women and religious minorities, the courts are actively transforming the post-revolutionary landscape. And they, in turn, are being transformed themselves, as other political actors attempt to reshape the composition of the courts and the way they behave. As a result, much of what we thought we knew about the Egyptian judiciary has been overtaken by events. Indeed, while a number of important works on the judiciary have been published in recent years (Moustafa 2011; Goldberg and Zaki 2012; El-Ansary 2016), the need for focused, detailed research is more acute than ever.

It is for this reason that this panel brings together four scholars working at the cutting edge of contemporary research on the Egyptian judiciary. Each contribution is theoretically rigorous and draws on extensive field research, including interviews with politicians, judges, lawyers, and other members of the legal community. To ensure a strong thematic unity, they all share a common focus on the relationship between judicial behavior and political activism, whether as expressed by the state or civil society. But the commonalities go deeper. One of the central assumptions of this panel is that judges are strategic actors, and that they have responded to Egypt's post-revolutionary upheaval by aggressively pursuing their own interests. In this sense, the events of the last six years afford us a remarkable glimpse into judicial decision-making, a process that is typically kept hidden from view. What has emerged, and indeed what these four papers identify, is an institution that is surprisingly diverse and multi-vocal, but is nevertheless motivated by a shared sense of purpose and corporate identity.

This panel will be of interest to a wide range of researchers, including scholars of Egyptian politics, judicial politics, authoritarianism, and modern Islamic law. Several papers also address the special challenges involved in carrying out field research in contemporary Egypt, which will be of interest to scholars of the country in general. Taken together, they provide a timely assessment of an opaque institution that has consistently shown itself to be at the center of Egyptian political life.


Pol Science



Ellis Goldberg

(University of Washington)
Panel Participating Role(s): Discussant;

Jeffrey Sachs

(Acadia University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Hind Ahmed Zaki

(University of Washington)
Hind Ahmed Zak is a PhD Candidate in the Department of political science at the University of Washington. She holds an MA degree in Political Science from the University of Washington and a B.A in Political Science from Cairo University. She is a Comparative...
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Monika Lindbekk

(University of Oslo)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Mona Oraby

(Amherst College)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;