Judicial Role in Health Policymaking

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In the health sector the formulation of health policy is done by the three branches of government. Among the three branches of the federal government, the judiciary comprising of the lower courts and Supreme Court is responsible for health policymaking. The judiciary is composed of judges who interpret the laws according to the constitution of the country. The courts, in particular, ensure health policies are made per the constitution. 

            In any government structure, the courts are given the responsibility of overseeing health policymaking, refereeing, being right protectors, and interpretation of unclear laws. Courts do make decisions regarding whether an arm of government is acting within the constitutional limits as far as policy making is concerned. They are the ones who decide if any branch of government adheres to the provisions of the constitution (Anderson, 1992).

            Health policy must be legal and ethical for that reason there is a need for the existence of an overseeing body. The main aim of health policy is to safeguard and promote the health of members of a community. Through the government especially the judiciary all this becomes possible in ways that are considerate to human rights. The judiciary as an arm of government offers an ideal platform for the establishment of health policies. It is the role of judges in the courts assess both arguments and evidence objectively from numerous sources but not accountable to the public (Jacobson, Selvin & Pomfret, 2001).

            As a constitutional referee, the court examines health policies whether or not they are within the context of the constitution. It oversees the branches of government to ensure they do not overreach constitutional authority with legislation, if they do then it must be abandoned before its implementation. If the branch can challenge and show the democratic nature of the law, then it can be implemented.

            In health policymaking, the courts act as interpreters of unclear laws in the process giving the right meaning of the constitution to avoid wrong interpretation. They offer clear meaning in case of disputes during the establishment of policies. The courts may have to intervene and provide precise meanings when the legislative language is found to be ambiguous or vague having unclear meaning for that purpose. When a party during policy making tries to avoid regulation for a certain statue the court is called upon to litigate the meaning.

            The courts do also protect the constitutions on statues that appear to violate it to the advantage of other parties concerned. They vindicate the constitutional or legal rights of whoever alleges a violation of rights. For instance, when the court finds a violation of the constitutional rights of the public by law, then it will prevent the implementation of the law. For that reason, the law will only stand when there is no any form of violation on the public.

            All the roles as mentioned earlier of the court in health policymaking are usually accomplished simultaneously. The decisions made by courts have effects on the private and public sector concerning public policies. Therefore, the courts play vital roles in the process of policymaking to ensure there is no racial discrimination and neglect of constitutional rights (Hall, 2017). The inability of the executive and legislative branches of the government to establish health policies allow for the involvement of the judiciary in essential parts in policy development.


Jacobson, P. D., Selvin, E., & Pomfret, S. D. (2001). The role of the courts in shaping health policy: An empirical analysis. The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 29(3-4), 278-289.

Hall, M. A. (2017). The Role of Courts in Shaping Health Equity. Journal of health politics,           policy and law, 42(5), 749-770.

Anderson, G. F. (1992). The courts and health policy: Strengths and limitations. Health             Affairs, 11(4), 95-110.

December 12, 2023

Government Law

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