Assignment On Mc Culloch Vs. Maryland

935 words - 4 pages

One of the most famous supreme court cases of all time took place in Maryland in 1818. The case was between James W. McCulloch vs. the state of Maryland. This was around the time that the big and small state plans were being determined and national and state laws were blurry in how much power each of them had. This case has to do with the powers of the national and state governments. It was the case that also had to do with the necessary and proper clause, and stated that national government has power of state and local governments.The whole case began because of problems with a National Bank. In 1798, treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton chartered the United States first National Bank. However, the Republican congress had let the charter run out in 1811. In 1816 President Madison realized that had been a mistake, and convinced congress to charter a second bank. The charter was granted even though the bank was not a very popular institution. James W. McCulloch was the manager of the bank's branch office in Baltimore, Maryland. This was just one of 18 branches around the country. In 1818, the state of Maryland imposed an annual tax of $15,000 on the bank in an attempt to get rid of it. In Maryland, Mcculloch refused to pay. He said that the bank was controlled by the national government and the state was trying to tax it as if it were a state-chartered institution. A lot of lawsuits ensued, with the bank calling the tax unconstitutional and the state calling the bank illegal. This was the beginning of one of the supreme courts most extraordinary oral arguments in its history.The issue went far beyond the bank to exactly what congress's powers were. There is nothing in the constitution that specifically grants congress the power to establish and charter a bank. So the question came down to whether congress is limited to exercising only those powers that have been expressly granted to it by the Constitution's creators. The case lasted for nine long days. When the court finally gave its decision, it was obvious that the court had long ago decided which side to rule in favor of. The court used this case to set forth the basic idea of nationalism, and the supremacy of the federal government. The decision was based on two principles: first, the federal government's powers do not come from the states, they come directly from the people; and second, a constitution can only be an outline and must be adaptable to changing circumstances and cannot be expected to cover all incidents by itself.The people of the U.S. said that the supreme court had made the constitution supreme over all the states. The Constitution, as the court stated, had clearly given the government the power to tax, to regulate commerce, and to form a central economy. Inherent in these powers were the powers to use the means necessary for their execution. The court found this power within the "necessary and proper" clause, which gives congress the right to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution its responsibilities. On the subject of the Maryland Tax, the court quickly struck it down. It said that the power to tax is the "power to destroy". By doing this, the court restated the principle that the state constitutions, and state laws, do not control federal laws or the constitution. But the court tempered this slightly by noting that, while federal law is supreme, there must be a balance between federal law and sovereignty.In the Constitution, you can find the principles of implied powers in Article 1 Section 8. It is listed under The Powers of Congress. Clause 18 in that section of the article is the basis of the implied powers. It says that Congress has the power to make all laws that are necessary and proper for carrying out the power granted by the Constitution to the federal government. The principle of National Supremacy is found in Article 6 of the Constitution. There are 2 parts to it: Public Debts and Treaties, the Supreme Law, and Oaths of Office.Even though Amendment 10 states that all powers not given to the National Government directly nor given to the states are reserved to the states, this does not mean that all powers not given to the National Government in the Constitution are the states. The Chief Justice John Marshall's reasoning in this case suggested that the National Government may do what is necessary and proper even if it wasn't given that power directly from the Constitution. This expands the National Government's powers very much.I agree with the Nationalist Position in interpreting this case. The National Government was made by the people, for the people so I think it should be supreme over all local and state governments in the United States. I definitely think that the National Government should have much more power than the state governments.


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