McCulloh v. Maryland

Procedural History

McCulloch (bank cashier – D )  v. Maryland (state – P)

In Supreme Court, this was the appellate court back then.


A Maryland statute prohibited any bank from operating w/in the state w/out authority from the state to issue bank notes.  Law specifies that there will be fines, and fee’s paid from people who violate this state made rule.  An act of congress established a national bank, and the bank’s cashier (McCulloch) issued bank notes, and the state of Maryland sued for fees, upon which, McCulloch did not pay.

1) Maryland argues that the term necessary limits the rights the rights to pass laws for the execution of the granted powers to those of which are indispensable

2) Maryland incorrectly argued that the powers of the federal government  are delegated by states which alone, are truly sovereign,

  • Constitution derives its power from the people, not from the states


1)      Does congress have the power to incorporate a bank?

2)      Does a state have the power to impose fee’s on the operation of an institution created by the congress pursuant to its constitutional powers?


1)      YES.

2)      NO.


Article 1, Section 8, Clause 18 – powers given to the congress, to choose and enact the means to perform an end upon it are implied from the necessary and proper clause.

The power of the federal constitution are the supreme laws of the lands – federal constitutional law, trumps, state made law – this was agreed upon in the Philadelphia convention.

Court reasoning

1)      Congress has the discretion to choose and enact the means to perform the duties imposed upon them form necessary and proper clause.

  1. Constitution has some enumerated powers, but does not exclude incidental or implied powers – would do so, would be to create the constitution of legal codes, not one of which is readily available for all public,
  2. By creating a constitution may be implied as incidental to other powers or used as a means of executing them.
  3. As long as the end (federal banks) is legitimate and w/in the scope of the constitution, any means which are appropriate, which are plainly adapted to that end, and which are not prohibited by the constitution, but are consistent with its spirit, are constitutional.
    1.                                                               i.      Bank is convenient, useful, and essential instruments for handling national finances.  Its w/in congress’s power to enact a law by incorporating a US bank.

2)      The federal constitution is the supreme laws of the land, and supreme to state laws therein.

  1. A state cannot tax an organization created by the US government, it acts upon an institution upon which it has no control, the states have no power to impeded, burden or in any manner, control the operations of the constitutional laws enacted by congress – therefore the Maryland statute is, therefore unconstitutional and void.
  2. The statute is in opposition from the supreme powers ability to create a federal bank.

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