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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.
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1988 Nothing could have prepared him for his role in the most controversial paecommunity and struggling to control his vile urges.
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At times, however, Early records controversial stories and leaves them unchallenged or implies scandal without following through on the story.
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When young people have opportunities to discuss current issues in a classroom setting, they tend to have greater interest in politics, improved critical thinking and communications skills, more civic knowledge, and more interest in discussing public affairs out of school.' The literature on democracy education abounds with varying approaches to teaching controversial issues.
The report is silent on some of the most controversial PATRIOT Act provisions.
The most controversial issue involves reducing the wages of players who sustain long term injuries.
PIM staff sent letters and e-marls asking if overseas partners were still willing to continue previously planned activities following the controversial resolution and in general, the response was positive, she said.
Confidential Confessions bills itself as "a controversial manga that tackles society's most complex issues." In the first story Manatsu, a depressed teenager who collects her own scabs, meets Asparagus, a girl who cuts her arms with razors.
For example, consider perhaps the most important and most controversial thing that the PCAOB has done: the internal auditing standards.

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