In the case McCulloch v. Maryland, John Marshall handed down one of his most important decisions regarding the expansion of Federal power. This case involved the power of Congress to charter a bank, which sparked the even broader issue of the division of powers between state and the Federal Government. Reason for the case The dispute that led to McCulloch vs. Maryland case began in 1790 between Alexander Hamilton, who favored congressional authority to create a Bank of the United States, and Thomas Jefferson and Edmund Randolph, who opposed. Despite Thomas’s and Edmund’s oppositions a bank of the United States was created.
The bank was created to resolve the serious economic problems of the country. Unfortunately the economic troubles continued, and many states began to dislike the bank. The State of Maryland fought back against the United States bank by creating a law to tax any bank not chartered by the state. The U. S. Bank refused to pay the taxes and Maryland filed suit against James McCulloch, the cashier of the Baltimore branch of the Bank of the United States bank. The Case The case presented two questions: Did Congress have the authority to establish the bank? and did the Maryland law unconstitutionally interfere with congressional powers? To begin, the court determined that Congress had the power to charter the bank.
John Marshall, the jurist, supported this conclusion with three arguments. First, the court argued historically that the Constitution was a social contract created by the people at the Constitutional Convention. The government proceeds from the people and bound the state sovereignties.
Therefore, the federal government is supreme based on the consent of the people. Second, Congress is bound to act under explicit or implied powers of the Constitution.Although the term “bank” is not included, there are powers such as to lay and collect taxes, to borrow money and to regulate commerce. Although not explicitly stated, Congress has the implied right to create the bank. Third, Marshall supports the opinion textually under the Necessary and Proper Clause, which permits Congress to seek an objective that is within the enumerated powers as long as it is rationally related to the objective and not forbidden by the Constitution. Marshall rejected Maryland’s narrow interpretation of the clause because many of the enumerated powers would be useless.In conclusion, Congress has the authority to promulgate legislation as long as the result is legitimate under the Constitution and adopted for the objective.
Next, Marshall determined whether Maryland can tax the branch of the bank without violating the Constitution. The Supremacy clause dictates that State laws comply with the Constitution and succumb when there is a conflict. Taking as undeniable the fact that “the power to tax involves the power to destroy”, the court concluded that the Maryland tax could not be levied against the government.If states were allowed to continue their acts, they would destroy the institution created by federal government and oppose the principle of federal supremacy, which originated in the text of the Constitution. Decision The court held that Maryland violated the Constitution by taxing the bank, and therefore voided that tax. The opinion mandated that Congress has implied power that needs to be related to the text of the Constitution, but not all powers need to be within the text.
ConclusionMcCulloch vs. Maryland played a huge role in shaping the way our government is today. It raised questions about our governments and how powerful they should be.
This case was an essential element in the struggle for the creation of federalism, and the permanent balance between federal power and States’ rights. References “McCulloch vs. Maryland. ” Our Documents . 13 Oct. 2010 http://www. ourdocuments. gov/doc.
php? flash=old&doc=21 Dautrich, Yalof, Clark, Schaffner. American Government. : , 2008.