Court Cases?

Mcculoch v Maryland

Dartmouth College v Woodward

Which court case above involved the U.S. bank being constituional. Please provide a link or information to support your answer.


The court case description above was about the U.S. bank being constituional and involved Chief Justice John Marshall.

2 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    In many ways, the opinion in this case represents a final step in the creation of the federal government. The issue involved, the power of Congress to charter a bank, seems insignificant, but the larger questions go to the very heart of constitutional interpretation, and are still debated today.

    In 1791, as part of his financial plan, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton proposed that Congress charter a Bank of the United States, to serve as a central bank for the country. Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson opposed the notion, on the grounds that the Constitution did not specifically give Congress such a power, and that under a limited government, Congress had no powers other than those explicitly given to it. Hamilton responded by arguing that Congress had all powers except those specifically denied to it in the Constitution, and that moreover, the "necessary and proper" clause of Article I required a broad reading of the designated powers. President Washington backed Hamilton, and the bank was given a twenty-year charter. The charter expired in 1811, and the Jeffersonians had not renewed it.

    Then came the War of 1812, and President Madison realized that the government needed the services of a central bank. In 1816, at his recommendation, Congress chartered a second Bank of the United States (BUS), which quickly established branches throughout the Union. Many local, state-chartered banks, eager to follow speculative policies, resented the cautious fiscal policy of the BUS, and looked to state legislatures to restrict the BUS operations. Maryland imposed a tax on the bank's operations, and when James McCulloch, the cashier of the Baltimore branch of the BUS, refused to pay the tax, the issue went to Court.

    Few people expected the Court to hold the charter establishing the bank unconstitutional; what was at issue was the extent of state power vis-à-vis federal authority. In what has justly been termed a state paper, Chief Justice Marshall not only endorsed the constitutionality of the bank, but went on to uphold a broad interpretation of the federal government's powers under the Constitution, and thus pave the way for the modern national state that would emerge after the Civil War. Although there have been some people who have disagreed and continue to disagree with the Marshall opinion, it has for the most part won the approval not only of subsequent courts but of the American people as well.

    For further reading: Bray Hammond, Banks and Politics in America -- From the Revolution to the Civil War (1957); G. Edward White, The Marshall Court and Cultural Change, 1815-1835 (1988); Gerald Gunther, ed., John Marshall's Defense of McCulloch v. Maryland (1969); Samuel J. Konefsky, John Marshall and Alexander Hamilton: Architects of the Constitution (1964).

    Facts of the Case

    In 1816, Congress chartered The Second Bank of the United States. In 1818, the state of Maryland passed legislation to impose taxes on the bank. James W. McCulloch, the cashier of the Baltimore branch of the bank, refused to pay the tax.


    The case presented two questions: Did Congress have the authority to establish the bank? Did the Maryland law unconstitutionally interfere with congressional powers?


    In a unanimous decision, the Court held that Congress had the power to incorporate the bank and that Maryland could not tax instruments of the national government employed in the execution of constitutional powers. Writing for the Court, Chief Justice Marshall noted that Congress possessed unenumerated powers not explicitly outlined in the Constitution. Marshall also held that while the states retained the power of taxation, "the constitution and the laws made in pursuance thereof are supreme. . .they control the constitution and laws of the respective states, and cannot be controlled by them."

  • 3 years ago

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