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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 ?
Ryan, first publisher of the Messenger of the Sacred Heart in 1887 and author of 'the little booklet' of Richmond parish history to which Bloxom refers, was succeeded as superior of the Jesuit order in Australia by Lockington (1871-1948), orator, controversialist, and friend and ally of Mannix.
That a British civil servant in India chose to outline his views on the Land War in the evocative terminology of Middle Irish should surely impress on readers that Stokes is a far more interesting subject than the arid scholar imagined by previous commentators or even the "controversialist" described elsewhere by Sean O Luing.
Noted military historian, critic, and professional controversialist Martin van Creveld has now tackled the subject in a broad way with his latest work, The Age of Airpower.
Again in these sermons we hear Luther at work as a controversialist, demarcating true Christian teaching from false.
Curated by the Polish artist and controversialist Artur Zmijewski, whose previous work includes a video in which he pressures a reticent Holocaust survivor to re-tattoo the fading concentration camp number his arm, the collection of agitprop art offers a rather singular view of the Israeli-Arab conflict.
"He was a remarkable polemicist, humanist controversialist. Most of all, he loved a heated debate, discussion and enraging people, all to the good.
and came to the view that Chesterton, whose fame as a writer, journalist and controversialist has faded since his death in 1936, was 'a much bigger figure' than he had thought.
He could be a cruel controversialist and relished a fight with those he disliked or opposed.
He was orthodox, conservative and belligerent; what in contemporary terms would be called a controversialist. Gresley could pick a fight in an empty vestry.
George Will writes in the preface to Athwart History that Bill Buckley was "the most consequential political controversialist since Thomas Paine." In the present season of discontent, as our own souls are being tried, Buckley shows us what can be achieved when wisdom is combined with wit and perseverance, and moral clarity with good manners and ecumenical grace.
Giovanni Pietro Francesco Aguis de Soldanus (1712-70) was an ecclesiastic, a historian, a grammarian, a lexicographer, a controversialist, and a librarian whose literary and linguistic contributions to Malta and the Maltese language are celebrated here in four essays from the Conference on Aguis de Soldanus at the University of Malta in May 2007, and a fifth reprinted with updated footnotes from a 1996 Malta Historical Society publication.
In its defence, the newspaper said Gill was a "controversialist who pursues the English tradition of lampooning and ridiculing public figures".