McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)

In this early federalism case, the Court ruled that the federal government had the power to create a national bank. It held that the creation of a bank was an implied power under Article I, section 8, including the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause.

Chief Justice John Marshall pointed out that while the word “bank” did not appear in Congress’s enumerated powers, the creation of a bank was a means of executing its listed powers: “Although, among the enumerated powers of government, we do not find the word ‘bank,’…we find the great powers to lay and collect taxes; to borrow money; to regulate commerce…”

Marshall discussed compact theory and asserted that the people were the agents of the Constitution’s establishment and not the states. He also invoked the Supremacy Clause in ruling that Maryland could not tax the federal bank.

The case touched on issues of federalism, limited government, and reserved and concurrent powers.