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Video transcript

in this video we're going to talk about one of the most important US Supreme Court cases that has helped determine the balance of power between the federal government and the states and that's McCulloch versus Maryland so the year is 1816 where after the war of 1812 wars are expensive the United States the federal government wants to create the second bank of the United States the Charter for the first bank of the United States had ended a few years ago and had not been extended and the reason why a bank is useful for a federal government a bank can be a place to store taxes that are collected from people it could be a place to issue debts to issue banknotes think paper currency and so the second bank of the United States is created it is headquartered in Philadelphia right over here in 1816 and that in 1817 they open up a branch in Baltimore right over there and this is where things get a little bit messy because it turns out that the Maryland legislature Baltimore is in Maryland decides to pass a law to tax any banks that have charters from outside of Maryland well it turns out that the branch of the second bank of the United States was the only bank in Maryland that was chartered outside of Maryland and the law itself seems to be targeted at that Bank the law taxes notes issued by the bank the head of that branch of the Baltimore branch of the second bank of the United States James McCulloch he refuses to pay this tax he says hey we are a federally chartered bank you have no right to taxes eventually it gets appealed all the way to the United States Supreme Court and there are two main questions that need to be answered the first is does the federal government have the power to charter a National Bank where is that in the United States Constitution by the time it got to the Supreme Court Maryland was arguing that hey we don't even think the federal government has the right to charter a bank we don't see that enumerated in the Constitution and then if the bank can exist can estate axé a National Bank the US Supreme Court at this time is headed by Chief Justice John Marshall who is a federalist and as we will see they vote strongly in favor of the federal government they decide unanimously that yes the federal government does have the power to charter a bank and they say no a state actually cannot tax it and so what do they cite in the Constitution to back up that decision so this right over here is an excerpt of article 1 section 8 of the United States Constitution we've covered it in other videos when we talk about enumerated powers and it lists a bunch of powers enumerated just means things that are very explicitly defined they've been listed they've been enumerated Congress has the power to lay and collect taxes duties imposts and excises borrow money regulate commerce with foreign nations among the several states with the Indian tribes and it goes on and on and on but the 18th Clause here is really interesting it's known as the Necessary and Proper Clause and we cover it in several other videos but it says that Congress has the power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers and so John Marshall the Chief Justice in his decision says look even though the power to create a National Bank to charter a National Bank even though it isn't enumerated here in article one section eight this Clause 18 this Necessary and Proper Clause says that look the federal government also can make laws that allow it that are necessary and proper for doing the other things for example borrowing money or issuing currency and so they're saying that look this bank is a means to an end and because it is a means to an enumerated end they're saying that there's an implied power here and so the whole notion of implied powers that we talked about in other videos it really strongly stems from this decision on McCulloch versus Maryland now Maryland argued a narrow reading of this Necessary and Proper Clause they're like what does a bank absolutely necessary couldn't you do some of these other things without having a bank and the Supreme Court said well no no this isn't to limit the federal government that this whole section is all about anew powers to say what the federal government can do not what they can't do so does not have to be absolutely necessary and on the second question of well if this banks going to exist can the state the where the branches can the state tax it that's where what's known as the Supremacy Clause came into effect this right over here is an excerpt article six clause to this Constitution and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof and all treaties made or which shall be made under the authority of the United States the federal government shall be the supreme law of the land and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby and so the argument that the justices made is well you could if you don't like something if we allow the states to tax this National Bank well the power to tax is the power to destroy that you could tax it so much that it can't even operate but this is saying that the authority of the federal government of the United States shall be the supreme law of the land so a state can't get in the way of a federal government and to hear it in John Marshall's own words he wrote a very long a decision about McCulloch versus Maryland but here's just a few excerpts that speak to each of these points so first of all implied powers let the end be legitimate let it be within the scope of the Constitution and all means which are appropriate which are plainly adapted to that end which are not prohibited but consist with the letter and spirit of the Constitution are constitutional this is a big deal he's saying look if the end is legitimate and if the means is not prohibited so nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the federal government can't start a National Bank so it's not prohibited and if it and if the end is to do some of the enumerated powers that are legitimate then it is constitutional so this is really a strong wording around implied powers and using the Necessary and Proper Clause as the backing for it and in terms of supremacy it is the very essence of supremacy to remove all obstacles to its action within its own sphere and so to modify every power vested in subordinate governments as to accept its own operations from their influence so saying hey we're not gonna allow subordinate government's the states to get in the way that's the essence of the supremacy clause this effect need not be stated in terms it is so involved in the declaration of supremacy so necessarily implied in it that the expression of it could not make it more certain so once again John Marshall clearly saying the Supremacy Clause in order for it to make any sense the subordinate governments the states should not be able to interfere with the operations of the federal government if their ends are legitimate its constitutional and the states cannot get in the way in the example of McCulloch versus Maryland by taxing so as you can imagine this decision clarified the shifting of a lot of power towards the federal government and away from the states
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