CASE BRIEF Case Name: McCullochv. State Citation: 17 U.S. 316 (1819) Facts: On the 11th day of February in 1818, an act was passedby the General Assembly of Maryland to impose a tax on banks in Maryland thatwere not chartered by the Legislature. At the time, the only bank in Maryland affectedby this act was the Second Bank of the United States, located in Baltimore. TheSecond Bank of the United States was incorporated by an act passed by congresson the 10th day of April in 1816. Asthe head of the Baltimore branch of the Second Bank of the United States, JamesMcCulloch responded to this new tax levied on the bank by refusing to pay saidtax.
A lawsuit emerged in favor of the State of Maryland which led to the casebeing appealed to the Maryland Court of Appeals. The Maryland Court of Appealsupheld the argument made by Maryland because the Constitution did notspecifically contain the subject of whether the United States had power to incorporatea bank. The case was appealed to theUnited States Supreme Court. Disposition Below/Procedural History: Suit was brought upon the head of the Bank ofthe United States by John James who represented the state of Maryland. The headof the Bank, James McCulloch, was sued for refusing to pay the tax imposed onthe bank.
A suit took place at the Baltimore County court that ruled in favorof John James and the state of Maryland. McCulloch then appealed to theMaryland Court of Appeals who upheld the previous ruling in which favored thestate of Maryland. The case was appealed to the United States Supreme Court bywrit of error. Appellant’s/Petitioner’sArgument(s): 1. Incorporatinga national bank is within the powers of Congress because of the “necessary andproper” clause.
This clause is said to be among the powers of Congress, notamong the limitations. “This provision is made in a constitution, intended forages to come, and consequently, to be adapted to the various crises of humanaffairs. To have prescribed the means by which government should, in all futuretime, execute its powers, would have been to change, entirely, the character ofthe instrument, and give it the properties of a legal code.
” Appellant’s/Petitioner’sArgument(s): 1. The powers that Congress thinks it has toincorporate a national bank are given to them by the sovereign states. Thestate of Maryland finds it necessary to contend, that this clause was insertedfor the purpose of conferring on congress the power of making laws. That,without it, doubts might be entertained, whether Congress could exercise itspowers in the form of legislation. As a sovereign state in charge of making itsown legislature, Maryland has the power to tax any subject within its borders.
Issues: 1. Whetherit was constitutional and within its powers for Congress to incorporate a bank2. Whetherthe state of Maryland unconstitutionally interfered with the powers of Congressby taxing the Bank of the United States.
Holding:1. Yes.The Supreme Court unanimously agreed that the act to incorporate the Bank ofthe United States and to establish a branch in the state of Maryland bycongress was made in pursuance of the constitution and therefore is the supremelaw of the land. 2.
Yes.Taxation is important and retained by the states but the constitution issupreme over the states’ rights and laws. The US Supreme Court ruled that theUnited States government is supreme over states laws therefore making thetaxation on the Bank of the United States by Maryland unconstitutional. Summary of the MajorityOpinion: The decision of the Supreme court wasunanimous.
The unanimous opinion was written by Chief Justice Marshall andstated the following: The Supreme Court asserted thatCongress is awarded national supremacy over the states in matters of constitutionallygranted authorities. Congress has powers not explicitly outlined in theConstitution through the “necessary and proper” clause. The state of Marylandacted in contrary to the Constitution of the United States and therefore thedecision by the Maryland Court of Appeals in affirming the judgement of theBaltimore County court is ruled unconstitutional. The ruling by both theBaltimore County court and the Maryland Court of Appeals were reversed andannulled. Chief Justice Marshall first writesthat the constitution is to be considered while the conflicting parties ofgovernment make their arguments.
In the constitution it is found that thearguments are to be issued and discussed and then an opinion given that willmodel for operations of government now and in future cases. The courts go over the firstquestion that is brought about by this case- Does congress have the power toincorporate a bank? This has never been an issue that has been discussed in theSupreme Court so it is reflected about the past and how to even answer aquestion of this kind. The way congress passed the bill forincorporating the Bank of the United States was not sneakily passed but insteaddebated about and then supported in the executive cabinet, it then became a law. The next issue tackled is counselfor the state of Maryland’s claim that the sovereign states are the ones thatare giving congress its powers and possess supreme domination. The Court writesthat this proposition is hard to keep, the convention which framed theconstitution was done so by the states legislators.
But the agreement was onewithout obligation. The states were created so as not to force the UnitedStates population into one mass but instead separate states that had theability to make their own laws on things such as taxing. The court then turns its attentionto how the government’s enumerated powers are acknowledged by all. The UnitedStates government is supreme in its laws as proven by the constitution. Nostate can contradict the laws and powers of the government for it is supremeover them. Although there is no established power on whether incorporating abank, there are “necessary and proper” language that allows congress powersthat are not directly given to them through the constitution.
The wordnecessary cannot be strictly defined as to make it impossible to judge futurecases of similar issues. The necessary and proper clause allows for adaptationand endurance for future cases. The court addresses the counsel for Maryland’svarious claims that the clause is a limitation of congresses power instead of grantedpower. It is decided that the clause is among the powers of congress not oflimitations.
Although governments powers are limited, as long as they are inthe scope of the constitution and most beneficial to the people, they areconstitutional. Disposition: Reversed Summary of any MajorConcurrence: N/A Summary of any MajorDissent: N/A