Public policy is the counteractive measures taken by the government to solve a problem (s) affecting its citizen and hence improve their lives. Normally, policies address industry and business problems, security problems and other social problems like crime and poverty. This paper investigates the roles of the three branches of the government in policy-making.
A deeper look at the functioning of the U.S. government would reveal issues the general public have no idea of their existence. The general view of the functioning of the government in making and implementation of policies is that the Congress makes laws which are in turn implemented by the executive and applied by the courts.
However, this general understanding of law making and implementation in the U.S. is, to some extent, wrong. The truth is that, all the branches of the government play active roles in making, enforcing and legitimizing of public policies (Miller, 2010, p. 1).
As stated above, the Congress holds the power to legislate. Within its jurisdiction therefore, is the power to make laws, bills etc. Almost every United States citizen knows the active role of the congress in making laws. Despite its power to make laws, the decision made by the congress regarding public policy is not final. The congress therefore works in conjunction with executive agencies and the judiciary when making policies (Trethan, 2010, p. 1).
The executive branch of the government is established by the constitution due to the president’s inability to solely enforce laws. The executive is therefore appointed by the president, with exceptions, to implement laws. The president is given such powers by the constitution by virtue of being the commander in chief of the Militia, Navy and Army (Barbara, 2008, p. 451).
The executive is therefore, the governmental branch that identifies problems and initiates the law/policy making process. The congress has the power to regulate the performance of executive agencies pertaining laws made by the congress. The judiciary also has the power to determine the constitutionality of the actions of executive agencies in the implementation of laws (Trethan, 2010, p. 1).
It is generally assumed that the judiciary only interprets and applies laws after checking their agreement with the constitution. However, the judges make policies as they carry out their functions (Barbara, 2008, p. 451). The main reason why judges are able to make laws is their precedential power of judicial review. This is their aforementioned power to determine the constitutionality of certain laws made by Congress and the executive branches of the government.
Some people argue that the fact that judges are not elected should make them unable to control the policy making process while others argue that judicial review is necessary to ensure that the government is run in accordance with the constitution. Considering both the dark side and the advantage of judicial review, it is a positive step towards ensuring that the other branches of the government do not use their powers unconstitutionally (Miller, 2010, p. 1).
From the discussion above, it is apparent that all the three arms of the government have active roles in policy-making. It can be seen that if one of the branches of government was excluded from the law and policy making process, things could terribly go wrong. This is due to the disparity of ideas that exist among and within the branches of government. This disparity ensures a refined policy is made before it comes to force. For instance, the congress itself may be substantially divided on a given issue.
Barbara, A. (2008). American government and politics today 2008: The essentials. New York. Barnes & Noble.
Miller, C. (2010). The policy making process. Retrieved June 18, 2010, from,
Trethan, P. (2010). The Branches of Government. Retrieved June 18, 2010, from,