Public policy refers to an effort by government to tackle a matter that is considered to be of effect to the general population. Such policy at whichever level usually takes the form of regulations, laws or the implementation of certain actions. From the definition therefore government has to play a key role in the entire aspect of day to day life. Government on its part has to do with the body charged with exercising power and control over others. This is also done through laws and regulations. The law regulates actions and decisions of both the governors and the governed. Government is divided into three arms, the executive, judiciary and legislature. The executive implements the law and development activities. Laws and national policy are formulated by the legislature, while the resolution of conflict arising and administration of justice with reference to the law is left to the judiciary. This paper seeks to discuss the contribution of the judiciary and legislature to public policy formulation.
The Role of Legislature
The legislature is the representative arm of government. The views of representatives are considered to be those of the people represented. What is considered to be of value to the people will be expressed by their representatives who then incorporate the issue into legislation. Policy is therefore an area of interest identified by the public, who seek to formalize it through the lawmaking institution. The link between the public and the executive, which is the implementer of problem-tackling measures, is the legislature. The legislature therefore has a key role to play as the effectiveness of public policy will depend on how well it is articulated and whether it is adopted as a national issue or not.
Role of the Judiciary
Whenever there are interactions there is always the likelihood of conflict. There are also cases of violation of rules that have been laid down. The role of the judiciary is to ensure the administration of justice. This is done through interpretation of the law, which in this case is public policy. Those who contravene the policy spelt by the set regulations are also punished according to provisions of the law. The judiciary therefore plays a major role in shaping public policy. For instance, if people feel that they deserve to get better services from their government, they may require referring their demand to the courts of law (Gilbey, 1996). These will establish the legality of the demand by for instance identifying its relation to the existent provision for that and other related rights. What the judiciary considers to be a valid a need generally becomes legitimate. This gives the institution a key role to play in the determination of public policy (Arnold & Schein, 2001).
The Identified Organization
The organization identified is Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Its main area of operation is provision of health services. It is also involved in advocacy relating to areas such as access to healthcare, HIV/AIDS, reproductive health and Planned Parenthood. These are social problems and therefore matters of public policy. Issues to do with the provision of health insurance, the abortion controversy, family planning and sex education among the youth are also areas covered by the organization. Considering the large number of people they affect the issues are significant. There are therefore always legal interventions aimed at ensuring that the critical issues are resolved to the benefit of the general population. There are for instance policies relating to health insurance. These may be at state and national level. In the United States, the policies play a role in determining how such an organization operates. A provision that illegalizes abortion would signify that advocating for secure abortion becomes unlawful. Government support cannot therefore be sought. Legal cases such as the Roe Vs Wade case of 1973 have played a role in determining the decisions made by advocacy groups such as Planned Parenthood. The case, at the Supreme Court ruled that such a case was violated in the process of suing the accused. This made abortion legal. There has therefore been the abortion debate (Touro Law Center, 1995). The Planned Parenthood Federation has in many areas been advocating for provision of healthcare insurance benefit for reproductive health. This is not adequately provided for by law. Basing on this, a person may go to court at any time to oppose the activities of such an organization. This illustrates the possible influence of the court system in decision-making processes (Planned Parenthood Federation, 2008).
The law also has an effect on the organization’s operations. As a Non Governmental Organization (NGO), such operations are governed by a legal framework. This has been laid down to guarantee responsibility and lucidity, for proper transparency and accountability. The laws provide a basis for recognizing and accepting the organization. They may be changed from time to time to ensure proper NGO governance. Recognition and acceptance of the organization is based on adherence to the law. In addition to these, there are also internationally recognized rights and freedoms. These comprise principally the freedom of association and the right to set up a legal organization in addition to that to question the existent state of affairs. The law at both international and national levels establishes the operational framework for the organization and therefore influence of the judiciary (Stillman, 2006).
In conclusion, the government plays a key role in the determination of public policy. This is because of its position as custodian of public interest. The formulation of policy most of the time has to do with the legislation of issues. This is aimed at providing a legal framework for the solution of stated problems. The legislature plays the important role of deliberating and debating on issues considered to be in public interest. It also formulates the necessary regulations to be implemented by the executive. The process of implementation may be characterized by conflict or deviance. Conflict is resolved by providing an interpretation of legal policy by the judiciary as there is always need to adhere to existing laws while implementing others. Deviance is also rectified by giving directions as per provisions of the legal framework. The two institutions are therefore key in the formulation of public policy.
Arnold, F. and Schein, B. (2001) The Judiciary: In the Service of the People. New York: Prentice Hall.
Gilbey, C. (1996). The Formulation of Public Policy in Developed Countries. London: Longman.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America (2008).Health Topics. Retrieved November 1 2008 from<http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/health-topics-11.htm>
Stillman, G. (2006) NGO Law and Governance. Tokyo: ADBI Knowledge
Touro Law Center. (1995). Roe Vs Wade Decided January 22, 1973 retrieved November 1, 2008 from<http://www.tourolaw.edu/Patch/Roe/> (2005)