Sunday, March 25, 2012

McCulloch v. Maryland case brief

 McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
Lends legitimacy to N&P clause, implied powers (Art. I, §8 (18))

One of the banks of the U.S. blamed for recession, states including MD tried to tax it. This lawsuit arose when MD sued McCulloch (cashier of bank branch) b/c Bank refused to pay the tax.

Issue 1:
Does Congress have the power to incorporate/charter a bank of the U.S.?
Marshall’s Arguments:
  1. Historical—Used the fact that the US incorporated the first bank so it could do so again.
  2. Rejected “compact federalism” view that the states are sovereign b/c they created the U.S.
  3. Said even though creation of a Bank is not enumerated, Congress can still create one as a means of carrying out its powers.
  4. Invokes Necessary & Proper Clause (Art. I, §8—Congress has the power “To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government…” Viewed the N&P clause as an expansion, not a limit, on Congress’ powers. (not “necessary” = “essential”; but rather “necessary” = “useful”.)
Holding on Issue 1: Congress has the power to create a bank, reaffirmed judicial review.

       Issue 2:
Can MD tax the branch in MD without violating the Constitution?
Holding: The law passed by the MD legislature imposing tax on Bank of the U.S. is unconstitutional b/c this would impede its operation.
  • Marshall focuses on the nature and the structure of the federal government. Marshall says the question is not whether the state has authority. Marshall saying that structurally, the constitution (i.e. supremacy clause) never contemplated the state being in control.
Implications: Limits states ability to interfere w/federal activities, establishes that federal government supreme over the states, expands Congressional power. This holding reinforces the preemption doctrine, says Framers intended that Congess would have the means to carry out certain powers.

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