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Bottom Line: The US Supreme Court decided Congress has the right to create a national bank, but the states don't have a right to ban the bank or tax it.

Simple Explanation

Congress created the Second Bank of the United States so the government would have a way to manage its money. They opened a bank in the state of Maryland. Maryland didn't want competition from the federal bank, so they decided to make a law forcing all banks that were started outside their state to pay extra taxes. The Second Bank of the United States was the only bank affected by this law because it was the only one operating in Maryland that was started somewhere else.

James McCulloch, who was head of the Second Bank of the United States in Maryland, refused to pay the tax. McCulloch sued Maryland in the state courts, saying the tax was unconstitutional and unfair. Maryland replied that the Constitution didn't say the United States government could start its own bank, so Maryland thought the bank was unconstitutional. The state courts agreed with Maryland.

James McCulloch appealed the case to the US Supreme Court. The Supreme Court decided Congress had a right to start a bank under the "Necessary and Proper Clause" of the US Constitution. The Necessary and Proper Clause basically says Congress has a right to do things not mentioned in the Constitution if their action is necessary to run the federal government and proper, or makes sense, serves a legitimate purpose, and is not forbidden by the US Constitution. The Supreme Court said the Necessary and Proper Clause gave Congress "implied powers," meaning the power to do some things not written in the Constitution, such as charter a bank to help the federal government collect and distribute money.

The Supreme Court also said that the federal government "is supreme within its sphere of action," meaning the United States government is more powerful and had more authority than the state government when the US is doing things allowed by the Constitution. For these reasons, the state of Maryland was not allowed to tax the federal government, and the tax on the bank was overturned as unconstitutional.

McCulloch v. Maryland was an important case because it was the first to explain Congress's "implied powers," and how they could be used. It also helped establish the balance of power between the state and federal government.

Case Citation:

McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 US 316 (1819)

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13y ago
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McCulloch v. Maryland represented a power struggle between the State and Federal government over whose laws should prevail in the event of a conflict.


The issues involved whether the federal government could charter a bank, and whether a state government could legally tax it.

McCulloch v Maryland was a debate between strict constructionism and the expansion of implied powers.

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Q: What is a simple explanation of McCulloch v. Maryland?
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Related questions

What was the McCulloch v Maryland trial about?

What is the problem of McCulloch v. Maryland?

What were the long term consequences of the ruling in McCulloch v. Maryland?

What were the long-term consequences of the ruling in McCulloch v. Maryland?

Which Supreme Court case prevented states from taxing the federal government?

McCulloch v. Maryland prevented states from taxing the federal government. The state of Maryland was trying to impose a tax on all bank notes of banks not chartered in Maryland. At the time, the only bank of this sort in Maryland was the Second Bank of the United States.

McCulloch v. Maryland what was the outcome?

Maryland wins

What Constitutional powers are given to the states?

What Constitutional power did McCulloch v. Maryland in 1819 test?

What landmark supreme court cases further establishes the supremacy clause?

Gibbons v Ogden

What role did James McCulloch play in McCulloch v. Maryland 1819?

James McCulloch was cashier and head of the Baltimore, Maryland, branch of The Second Bank of the United States who refused to pay a new tax the State of Maryland attempted to impose on the bank. McCulloch was the nominal defendant in Maryland's case against the federal government in the state courts, and the petitioner in the US Supreme Court case McCulloch v. Maryland, (1819).Case Citation:McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 US 316 (1819)For more information about McCulloch v. Maryland, see Related Links, below.

What did the supreme court case McCulloch v Maryland settle?

McCulloch v. Maryland settled that the National Bank was constitutional. Also it settled that Maryland does not have the power to tax a institution created by congress.

What is an example of national supremacy?

McCulloch v. Maryland.An example of national supremacy clause can be seen in the case McCulloch v. Maryland.

What did mcCulloch v. Maryland decided?

You need to do this on your own not searching it

Who was president during the mcculloch v Maryland case?

James Monroe

How did the ruling in McCulloch v. Maryland contribute to strengthening the national government?

How did the Supreme Court’s ruling in McCulloch v. Maryland strengthen the federal government ?The court case known as McCulloch v. Maryland of March 6, 1819, was a seminal Supreme Court Case that affirmed the right of implied powers, that there were powers that the federal government had that were not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, but were implied by it.