What is Public Policy?

Legal Definition
Public policy is the principled guide to action taken by the administrative executive branches of the state with regard to a class of issues, in a manner consistent with law and institutional customs. The foundation of public policy is composed of national constitutional laws and regulations. Further substrates include both judicial interpretations and regulations which are generally authorized by legislation. Public policy is considered strong when it solves problems efficiently and effectively, serves justice, supports governmental institutions and policies, and encourages active citizenship.

Other scholars define public policy as a system of "courses of action, regulatory measures, laws, and funding priorities concerning a given topic promulgated by a governmental entity or its representatives." Public policy is commonly embodied in "constitutions, legislative acts, and judicial decisions."

In the United States, this concept refers not only to the result of policies, but more broadly to the decision-making and analysis of governmental decisions. As an academic discipline, public policy is studied by professors and students at public policy schools of major universities throughout the country. The U.S. professional association of public policy practitioners, researchers, scholars, and students is the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.
-- Wikipedia
Legal Definition
the name given to the goals and aims of a law that promotes the general welfare of the people at large.
Legal Definition
By public policy is meant that which the law encourages for the promotion of the public good.

2. That which is against public policy is generally unlawful. For example, to restrain an individual from marrying, or from engaging in business, when the restraint is general, in the first case, to all persons, and, in the second, to all trades, business, or occupations. But if the restraint be only partial, as that Titius shall not marry Moevia, or that Caius shall not engage in a particular trade in a particular town or, place, the restraint is not against public policy,, and therefore valid. 1 Story, Eq. Jur. ยง274. See Newl. Contr. 472.
-- Bouviers Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
The principles under which the freedom of contract or private dealings is restricted by law for the good of the community. Wharton. The term "policy," as applied to a statute, regulation, rule of law, course of action, or the like, refers to its probable effect, tendency, or object, considered with reference to the social or political well-being of the state. Thus, certain classes of acts are said to be "against public policy," when the law refuses to enforce or recognize them, on the ground that they have a mischievous tendency, so as to be injurious to the interests of the state, apart from illegality or immorality. Sweet. And see Egerton v. Earl Brownlow, 4 H. L. Cas. 235; Smith v. Railroad Co., 115 Cal. 584, 47 Pac. 582, 35 In R. A. 309, 56 Am. St. Rep. 119; Tarbell v. Rnilroad Co.., 73 Vt 347, 51 Atl. 6, 56 In R. A. 656, 87 Am. St. Ren. 734; Hartford F, Ins. Co., v. Chicago, etc.. R. Co.., 175 U. S. 91, 20 Sup. Ct. 33. 44 L. Ed. 84; Enders v. Enuers, 164 Pa. 266, 30 Atl. 129, 27 L. R. A. 56, 44 Am. St. Rep. 598; Smith v. Du Bose, 78 Ga. 413, 3 S. E. 309, 6 Am. St. Rep. 260; Billingsley v. Clelland, 41 W. Va. 234, 23 S. El 812.
-- Black's Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
That principle of law which holds that no person can lawfully do that which has a tendency to be injurious to the public and against the public good. See 142 Ind. 560, 51 Am. St. Rep. 193, 41 N. E. 1048.
-- Ballentine's Law Dictionary