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An actual dispute between individuals who seek judicial resolution of their grievances that have arisen from a conflict of their alleged legal rights.

A controversy describes only civil litigation, which is intended to protect and enforce private rights. In contrast, the term case applies to both a civil action and a criminal prosecution, designed to enforce and safeguard the rights of the general public.

The judicial power of a court to provide redress of wrongs exists only when issues arise in a given situation that can be categorized as a case or controversy.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


n. 1) disagreement, argument, or quarrel. 2) a dispute, which must be an actual contested issue between parties in order to be heard by a court. The United States Supreme Court particularly requires an "actual controversy" and avoids giving "what if" advisory opinions. (See: advisory opinion, collusion)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

CONTROVERSY. A dispute arising between two or more persons. It differs from case, which includes all suits criminal as well as civil; whereas controversy is a civil and not a criminal proceeding. 2 Dall. R. 419, 431, 432; 1 Tuck. Bl. Com. App. 420, 421; Story, Const. Sec. 1668.
     2. By the constitution of the United States the judicial power shall extend to controversies to which the United States shall be a party. Art. 2, 1. The meaning to be attached to the word controversy in the constitution, is that above given.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
The controversy on the early release of heinous crime convicts has been the subject of separate investigations in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
In the past too, attempts had been made to resolve the controversy, but nothing came out of them.
In a Report and Recommendation that Judge Vilardo adopted, Magistrate Judge McCarthy "found that the amount in controversy did not exceed $75,000," requiring remand.
The Rushdie controversy was the first introduction of identity politics in our current times.
In a nutshell, the religion should be harmonious free from controversy or free of disturbance.
Will the government make the minutes of the meeting public since there is a controversy, and that would settle it once for all one way or the other."
It has been observed that whenever any unidentified body is recovered or in case of a crime, the controversy starts between two or sometimes three police stations.
"Some of his remarks and deeds during class sparked a controversy early last year," an agency official said.
New Delhi: The controversy around 17th-century monument Taj Mahal has only heated up in the past few weeks with political analysts describing it as an attempt by the central government to divert the attention of the people, particularly youth, from more pertinent issues such as failure of the mighty demonetisation scheme and shortcomings of the newly-launched Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Amid a controversy over travel to fancy resorts and other spending controversies, the head of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Sherry Cook, is out.
After all, every advertising agency and every client nowadays hates controversy. They would immediately issue a press release to squash it.