make a federal case of

federal case

noun
1.
a matter that falls within the jurisdiction of a federal court or a federal law-enforcement agency.
Idioms
2.
make a federal case (out) of, Informal. to exaggerate the importance of or make an issue out of (something trivial).

Origin:
1950–55

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

make a federal case of

Also, make a big deal of. Give undue importance to an issue, as in I'll pay you back next weekyou needn't make a federal case of it, or Jack is making a big deal of filling out his passport application. The first hyperbolic expression, almost always used in a negative context, alludes to taking a legal action before a high (federal) court. The second alludes to an important business transaction (see big deal, def. 1).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Idioms & Phrases
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