Congratulations! The year is 1819 and you are a justice on the
Supreme Court of the United States. Your responsibility is to use the
U.S. Constitution to determine the outcome of the McCulloch v. Maryland case. In order to make an educated decision, you must follow these procedures:
Prepare yourself by reading the Background Summary.
Read the excerpts from the U.S. Constitution below. In your own words, explain each of the excerpts.
Read the summary of the arguments presented by each side below. With whom do you agree? Why?
Write your decision. Be sure to include at least one idea from each of the three excerpts from the U.S. Constitution.
Excerpts from the Constitution
Article I, Section 8: The Congress shall have 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 of the United States, or in any
Department or Officer thereof.
Article VI, Clause 2: The Constitution, and the Laws
of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all
Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United
States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every
State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of
any state to the Contrary notwithstanding.
The 10th Amendment: The powers not delegated to the
United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States,
are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people.
Summary of the Arguments
For McCulloch: Daniel Webster argued that although
the power to charter a national bank is not specifically stated in the
Constitution, it is one of the implied powers that the "necessary and
proper" clause grants Congress. According to Webster, the bank was a
"necessary and proper" way for Congress to conduct the financial affairs
of the country. On the issue of whether or not Maryland could tax the
bank, Webster argued that if Maryland were allowed to tax the bank, the
state could destroy the bank by taxing it out of existence.
For Maryland: Maryland's Attorney General, Luther
Martin, represented the state. He challenged Webster's assertion that
the authority to establish a national bank is an implied power, saying
that because creating a bank was not specifically stated in the
Constitution, Congress did not have the authority to do so. Rather, it
is a power that is reserved for the states. He went on to argue that
because states are sovereign, they have the authority to tax
institutions and businesses within their borders.