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McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. 316 (1819) p89


Power of states - taxation of federal bank


Dispute over whether there should be a national bank or not. Congress passed legislation saying there should be a national bank.


1. Does Congress have power to incorporate a bank? (page 90)

2. May the state of Maryland tax that bank? (page 96)


The power to tax is the power to destroy. The Constitution is supreme and therefore the states cannot tax the federal government.


Though the power of establishing a corporation is not among the enumerated powers granted by the constitution to the general government, yet such power may be exercised by it whenever it becomes an appropriate means of exercising any of the powers expressly granted.


If the states were able to tax the federal government, it would be unfair to the other states; taxation without representation. States cannot do stuff that would exercise power over other states.


Remember that the United States is built on the idea of enumerated powers. The Congress must get its power to act from somewhere.

"In considering this question, then, we must never forget that it is a constitution we are expounding."