Updated 7:30 p.m. ET
CAIRO Egypt's president told the country's top judges Monday that he did not infringe on their authority when he seized near absolute powers, setting up a prolonged showdown on the eve of a mass protest planned by opponents of the Islamist leader.
An aide to President Mohammed Morsi said the decree was limited to "sovereignty-related issues," but that did not satisfy his critics.
The uncompromising stance came during a meeting between Morsi and members of the Supreme Judiciary Council in a bid to resolve a four-day crisis that has plunged the country into a new round of turmoil with clashes between the two sides that have left one protester dead and hundreds wounded.
The judiciary, the main target of Morsi's edicts, also has pushed back, calling the decrees a power grab and an "assault" on the branch's independence. Judges and prosecutors stayed away from many courts in Cairo and other cities on Sunday and Monday.
A spokesman said Morsi told the judges that he acted within his right as the nation's sole source of legislation when he issued decrees putting himself above judicial oversight. The president also extended the same immunity to two bodies dominated by his Islamist allies - a panel drafting a new constitution and parliament's mostly toothless upper chamber.
The spokesman, Yasser Ali, also told reporters that Morsi assured the judges that the decrees did not in any way "infringe" on the judiciary and that they were "temporary" and limited only to "sovereignty-related issues."
Two prominent rights lawyers - Gamal Eid and Ahmed Ragheb - dismissed Ali's remarks.
Eid said they were designed to keep "Morsi above the law," while Ragheb said they amounted to "playing with words."
"This is not what Egyptians are objecting to and protesting about. If the president wanted to resolve the crisis, there should be an amendment to his constitutional declaration."
Ali's comments signaled Morsi's resolve not to back down or compromise on the constitutional amendments he announced last week, raising the likelihood of more violence. Both sides had planned competing rallies in Cairo on Tuesday, but the Brotherhood cancelled its rally late Monday, saying it wanted to reduce tension and congestion in the city.
Thousands gathered in Damanhoor Monday for the funeral procession of 15-year-old Islam Abdel-Maksoud, who was killed Sunday when a group of anti-Morsi protesters tried to storm the local offices of the political arm of the president's fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's most powerful political group.
Up to 10,000 people marched through Cairo's Tahrir Square, the birthplace of the uprising against Mubarak, for the funeral procession of 16-year-old Gaber Salah, who succumbed to his head wounds on Sunday. Salah was wounded in clashes with police in the capital during protests against the Brotherhood earlier last week, before the decrees were issued.
Mourners marched with the Salah's body laid in a coffin wrapped in Egypt's red, white and black flag from Tahrir to a cemetery east of the city. Already images of Salah have appeared on Tahrir's walls. Underneath the images were the words: "Your blood will spark a new revolution."
Salah was a member of April 6, one of the key right groups behind the anti-Mubarak uprising. He was also a founder of a Facebook group called "Against the Muslim Brotherhood."
There were few confrontations on Monday, CBS News correspondent Holly Williams reports. After the funeral, hundreds of peaceful demonstrators continued to stage a sit in in Tahrir Square.
In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke Monday by telephone with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr to "register American concerns about Egypt's political situation," according to spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.