Cochran: Jurisdictional Relationships

Patricia Cochran, Faculty of Law, University of Victoria, participated in the international conference “Constitutionalism in the Age of Populism”, March 6-8, 2020, presenting a paper where she tackled the idea of jurisdictional justice.

Cochran’s paper starts recalling a 2016 decision of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, which ruled that the Canadian government’s funding of child welfare services on reserves through a series of policies and inter-governmental agreements discriminates against Indigenous children. Cochran notes that this case makes visible the importance of attending to the quality of relationships between legal jurisdictions when responding to the challenges of uncertain democratic legitimacy and compromised rule of law.

Exploring this case example, Cochran draws on theorists of jurisdiction and relational law to articulate an idea of jurisdictional justice that is inherently connected to the quality of democratic engagement and centres political, legal and human relationships.  She this argues that this relational understanding of jurisdiction provides resources for building a sense of legality that supports genuine democratic self-government.  It addresses the complexity of both democracy and the rule of law neglected by colonial state administration and sometimes made invisible by populist politics.

Short Bio

Patricia Cochran joined an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of law at the University of Victoria. She has received graduate degrees in law and political theory, and continues to teach and research at the intersection of those disciplines.

Patricia Cochran is working on constitutional law, equality and human rights law, statutory interpretation and evidence law.  Her research focuses on theories of judgment as a resource for thinking about the demands of law and justice in the context of pluralism, inequality and colonialism.  Her book, Common Sense and Legal Judgment: Community Knowledge, Political Power and Rhetorical Practice (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017) is a critical and interdisciplinary engagement with questions of judgment, knowledge and rhetoric.

You can read more about Patricia Cochran’s current research here.