McCulloch v. Maryland
United States Supreme Court
17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 316 (1819)
In 1816, Congress passed an act that incorporated the Bank of the United States. In 1817, the Bank opened up a branch in the state of Maryland (plaintiff). In 1818, the Maryland state legislature passed an act to impose a tax on all out-of-state banks operating in the state of Maryland. Although the act was general in nature, the Bank of the United States was the only such bank in Maryland at that time and was thus the only establishment affected by the tax. James McCulloch (defendant), head of the Maryland branch of the Bank of the United States (Bank), refused to pay the tax. This lawsuit ensued and the case was appealed to the Maryland Court of Appeals. The court of appeals upheld Maryland’s argument that because the Constitution was specifically silent on the subject of whether the United States government could charter a bank, the Bank of the United States was unconstitutional. The case was then appealed to the United States Supreme Court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Marshall, C.J.)
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