CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court ruled on Saturday against parts of an election law approved by the Islamist-led legislature that had lifted a long-standing ban on the use of religious slogans during campaigning.
The decision is the latest sign of tensions between the judiciary and President Mohammed Morsi and his Islamist allies. The courts have dealt Islamists several setbacks over the past two years, including the dissolution of parliament's lower house last year. That ruling was also issued by the Supreme Constitutional Court, which had judged the law governing its election invalid.
In its decision on Saturday, the court said that not explicitly banning religious slogans in campaigns runs counter to national unity and principles of citizenship. It said religious slogans may distract voters from focusing on the candidate's platform.
The bill will be sent back to the Shura Council, or upper house of parliament, for review. The council has temporarily assumed legislative powers in the absence of a lower house of parliament.
It was the second rebuff for the interim parliament's electoral law. The first came in March when a court ruled that the Shura Council had improperly passed the law without allowing the country's Supreme Constitutional Court to review it to ensure it conforms with the constitution. That decision annulled Morsi's decree to begin elections in April.
The Supreme Constitutional Court similarly ruled Saturday against a provision of the law that requires media outlets to give equal time to candidates, saying this violates freedom of the press.
The court also said the bill breaches the principles of separation of powers because it allows the president to set election dates and change them. Morsi had said recently elections could be held in October.
The back and forth over the law is the latest example of the power tussle between the judiciary and Morsi and his allies.
Another row is centered on a controversial law that would drop retirement age for judges from 70 to 60. This would affect nearly a quarter of the country's 13,000 judges and prosecution officials, most of them in senior positions, including in Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court.