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1791-1824: We forge a nation where the people rule

March 6, 1819
Marshall's decision gives the national government a boost

John Marshall

“Let the end be legitimate, let it be within the scope of the constitution, and all means which are appropriate...which are not prohibited...are constitutional.”
—Chief Justice John Marshall
McCulloch v. Maryland

In McCulloch v. Maryland, the state argued that it could tax the Baltimore branch of the national bank—and that Congress had no right to charter the bank in the first place.

Chief Justice John Marshall concedes: the Constitution doesn’t specifically say Congress can charter a bank. But some powers, he says, are implied.

Letting Maryland tax the bank would give one state “the power to destroy” it. That wasn’t what the American people intended, Marshall says, when they made the Constitution “supreme.”

Today’s Supreme Court ruling: the bank is constitutional, Maryland’s tax isn’t.

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