Separation of powers in Ghana: The evolution of the political question doctrine
In some democracies judiciaries have developed the political question doctrine to jurisprudentially resolve political questions and define their relationship with other branches of government. This doctrine is a function of the principle of the separation of powers and provides that there are certain questions of constitutional law that are constitutionally committed to the elected branches of government for resolution. As a result, such questions are non-justiciable and require the judiciary to abstain from deciding them if doing so would intrude upon the functions of the elected branches of government. This article examines the evolution and current status of the political question doctrine in Ghanaian jurisprudence, which developed from American jurisprudence. It begins by briefly discussing the history of the doctrine and its modern application in America. It then discusses how this doctrine was imported into Ghana and applied by the Ghanaian judiciary. The article argues that while there are differences of opinion around the application of the political question doctrine within Ghana's judiciary, the doctrine is firmly part of Ghanaian constitutional law. The article observes that the difference of opinion among judges is over the proper application of the doctrine rather than on whether it forms part of Ghanaian constitutional law. The article also discusses a related issue of the constitutional status of Directive Principles of State Policy in chapter 6 of the Constitution of Ghana.
KEYWORDS: Separation of powers; political question doctrine; judiciary; Ghana; branches of government; justiciability; directive principle.