"It is not unusual for constitutions to be written under contentious circumstances," says Nathan Brown, a political science professor at George Washington University and an expert on Egypt's judicial system. "But it is hard to think of one which has been so obviously shoved down the throats of all non-Islamist political forces, and over the metaphorical dead bodies of a large number of judicial organizations as well."
While imperfect or contested constitutions often become workable documents, "This is going to be seen by its opponents as born in such grievous sin that I cannot imagine any kind of legitimate political system arising out of it anytime soon," he says. "It may be a workable one … But it's one in which large portions of the political spectrum will feel politically excluded."
Hours after voting was scheduled to start, an Egyptian newspaper published what it claimed was a copy of the final draft to be voted on today, giving Egyptians the first chance to read what is likely to become their next constitution. The assembly finally began voting on the document in the afternoon, in a process that will take hours as the committee votes separately on each of the 234 articles.
Officials in the Muslim Brotherhood and its political wing the Freedom and Justice Party, which Morsi headed before he ran for president, indicated that they made the surprise move of rushing the constitution through because they feared a counterattack by Egypt's judiciary. Such a move would possibly delegitimize the constitution drafting process, seek to strip Morsi of some of his power, and delay Egypt's transition to a stable democracy with a constitution and elected parliament in place.