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The assembly made its decision to vote on the constitution as Egypt’s top appeals court, the Court of Cassation, went on strike.

The court has declared that it will cease working until Mr. Morsi reverses a constitutional declaration he made last week that broadened his powers and exempted him from judicial oversight.

The Supreme Constitutional Court has denied it is working to undermine Mr. Morsi’s government and rejected charges that it favored the regime of Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted last year.

Many secularist Egyptians are backing the judges, but Islamists remain skeptical.

“If I were Morsi, I would expel them all,” said 39-year-old Radwa Amer, clad in a headscarf. “[The judges] are biased toward a certain regime – the past one. They want everything to stay as it was.”

As the institutional game plays out in the constitutional assembly, the streets of Cairo are full of angry demonstrators.

Police fired tear gas into Tahrir Square, where several hundred protesters were gathered hours after an opposition rally Tuesday at the symbolic heart of the Arab Spring.

Uniting the opposition

Opponents of the Egyptian president have been gathering in the square since last week. The demonstration has drawn prominent opponents of the Egyptian president, such as Mohamed ElBaradei, a former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Protesters say Mr. Morsi, in just four months since taking office, has united Egypt’s disorganized opposition.

“Most of them are new to the square,” said Sabrine Abu Sabaa, a veteran opposition activist who has been going to Tahrir Square since protests began Friday.

“It really shows Morsi is really brilliant, that in four months he could make them unite regardless of their ideology.”

Mr. Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists responded to opposition rallies in Cairo on Wednesday by announcing a “Million Man March” to be held Saturday to prove the depth of support for the president, party officials said.

“The liberals don’t like that Islamists are [putting their stamp on] the constitution,” Mr. Amer said. “But democracy is rule by the majority. Islam is coming to this country. It has to. It is our religion.”

With both sides out in the streets and politicians and the judiciary polarized, the loyalties of Egypt’s armed forces will be tested in the days to come, analysts said. It was the army’s withdrawal of support that brought down Mubarak in February 2011.

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