The Supremacy of Federal Law 1819

The Supremacy of Federal Law 1819

The Supremacy of Federal Law 1819
The Supremacy of Federal Law 1819 – The Old Supreme Court Chamber, where Chief Justice John Marshall presided. The North Wing is pictured here in 1800.

McCulloch v. Maryland, John Marshall (1755–1835)

McCulloch v. Maryland – 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 316 (1819)

RULE: A solid design of the Constitution must provide the national legislature the discretion to choose the ways by which the powers it confers are to be carried out, allowing that body to carry out the great responsibilities it has been entrusted with in the most advantageous way for the people.

All measures that are acceptable, that are clearly tailored to that purpose, that are not forbidden, but comply with the language and spirit of the Constitution, are constitutional.

FACTS: The state of Maryland sued McCulloch to recover fines imposed under a Maryland law that levied a levy on all banks in the state of Maryland that were not chartered by the Maryland legislature.

McCulloch, a cashier at the Bank of the United States, had printed notes that were not stamped paper as required by the state laws. The county court ruled in favor of the state, and the court of appeals upheld the decision. The case was taken to the Supreme Court on a writ of error, disputing the Act’s validity.

ISSUE/QUESTION: Was the Maryland General Assembly’s act constitutional?


CONCLUSION: The Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s decision that the act incorporating the Bank of the United States constituted a constitutional statute. Furthermore, the Court concluded that the statute imposing a tax on the Bank of the United States was illegal and invalid because the states lacked the authority to impose restrictions on Congress’s constitutional laws.


The Power of Judicial Review (1803);

Congressional Regulation of Commerce (1824);

The Civil Rights Act of 1964;

The Voting Rights ActC (1965).


The Supremacy of Federal Law 1819

The Law Book: From Hammurabi to the International Criminal Court, 250 Milestones in the History of Law (Sterling Milestones) Hardcover – Illustrated, 22 Oct. 2015, English edition by Michael H. Roffer (Autor)