The decisions made in McCulloch v. Maryland recognized and explained to the United States the nation’s need for a strong central government. After fighting in the War of 1812, the United States of America experienced a significant amount of disarray and difficulty without a bank to supervise the country’s finances and to provide a reliable institution that the population could depend on amidst all the chaos.
Alexander Hamilton’s idea of a national bank would serve the purpose of providing one common institution that could help the entire country through its difficult times, but first the federal government needed to exercise supreme power over the state governments in order to ever possibly complete that task. While the federal government and Congress upheld a power to protect and provide for the nation, giving a state the power of taxing an institution to death implied a power of destruction, which created a contradiction in the organization of the government (Levy 1707).
John Marshall and the Supreme Court recognized this contradiction in their ruling of McCulloch v. Maryland when they legalized the use of the Bank of the United States by establishing the precedent that the federal government holds complete superiority in the government. Franklin Delano Roosevelt cited Marshall’s ruling when he expanded the powers of the federal government to enforce the New Deal, and as a result, he protected the security of the American population and prevented the nation from experiencing another major depression ever again (Hobson 294).
Marshall’s ruling also provided the legal background for the Enforcement Acts and other laws during Reconstruction that protected the suffrage of blacks by taking away power from state governments in order to validate the rights of blacks to hold representation in the government. By introducing the idea that state governments hold less power than the national government, Marshall allowed the country to unite under the decisions of the general population instead of becoming divided because of the actions of the rebellious states.
When the Framers first gathered to write the Constitution and organize the government of the United States, they all knew that they needed to create a government that would last for countless vears to come. Even though they all feared the corrupt powers of a strong government, especially after recently separating from the monarchical influence of Great Britain, they recognized that the country needed a powerful federal government if it expected to survive for as long as the Framers of the Constitution once hoped.
Powers originally granted to the federal government by the Framers included “the powers to borrow or coin money, regulate foreign and interstate commerce, establish a postal service, issue patents and copyrights, and tax citizens in a highly limited way” (“States’ Rights” 1263). One of the ways that they established the ideas of federal government superiority appeared in Article VI of the Constitution, which articulates that federal laws will always prevail over state laws if conflict arises (“McCulloch” Gale 773).
Including this statement in the Constitution not only provided the reasoning for the final ruling in McCulloch v. Maryland, but it also clarified how judges would deal with disagreements between federal and state governments in the future. Also included in the Constitution by the Framers, the idea that Congress and the other facets of the central government should possess the power to act in any way that seemed important in the process of helping advance and improve the country gave even more authority to the legislative branch.
Although the authors of the Constitution desired to create a government with checks and balances and with limited powers, they all agreed that the national government should still hold supremacy over all other state governments and organizations (Levy 1706). To this day, the government still must represent the interests of the general population in order to preserve the ideals of democracy that the Constitution originated from.
Because of how the government organizes itself today, the people of the country grant power to the government, and in return the government must implement its powers for the benefit of the people (“McCulloch” Gale 774). Abraham Lincoln later expressed the idea that power comes from the people of the country when he described the control of the nation as “a government of the people, by the people, for the people” (Levy 1706).
Creating a larger central government not only promotes expansion and development in the country, but it also guarantees the intrinsic right of equal protection for all Americans from the government in return for receiving power from the people (States’ Rights” 1265). Along with instituting ideas of maintaining a strong central government for the benefit of the country, John Marshall and the Supreme Court also shared their opinions on the issue of constitutional interpretation. Arguably one of the most significant decisions made in a United States Supreme Court case appeared in the McCulloch v.
Maryland verdict, which permitted broad interpretation of the Constitution and allowed the government to adjust and amend their practices in order to benefit the country in the best way possible. When the Framers first created and organized the American government, they desired to create a constitution “intended to endure for ages to come, and, consequentially, to be adapted to the various crises of human affairs” (Levy 1707). In order to guarantee that the government would always maintain power as time went on and situations changed, the authors of the Constitution decided to include the Elastic Clause.
This vague clause would allow Congress to perform any actions that seemed necessary in order to preserve the country and protect the rights of the people. Additionally, the authors of the Constitution arranged for an official, complex amending process within the construction of the government in order to allow it to adapt to the times (Gillman 1632). Giving this amending power to the leadership of the country helped to institute new laws throughout American history that the Framers never needed to address initially.
Despite the intentions to create an administration that promised equal rights to all American citizens, the original Constitution actually discriminated against a large portion of people living in America at the time. Indigenous Native Americans, African Americans, American women, and countless others would still not enjoy all the rights they enjoy today if the use of broad constitutional interpretation never successfully allowed the government to adapt to the changing opinions of the American population.
William J. Brennan, Jr. an old Supreme Court Justice, accentuated the brilliance of the Constitution and its exemplary adjustable system when he said, “the genius of the Constitution rests not in any static meaning it might have had in a world that is dead and gone, but in the adaptability of its great principles to cope with current problems and current needs” (Gillman 1635). Alexander Hamilton first brought up the idea of broad interpretation when he argued that the creation of a national bank satisfied the principles of the Constitution, despite the fact that the Constitution never specifically addressed the subject of a national bank (Mahoney 250).
Concepts of broad constitutional interpretation became even more controversial when John Marshall granted the power of judicial review to the judicial branch in the ruling of Marbury v. Madison. By providing more power to the judicial branch and giving them a power that the United States Constitution never specifically stated, Marbury v. Madison continued to develop the ideas of broad interpretation in the federal government. American politicians continued to promote these ideas as they enacted the Alien and Sedition Acts and endorsed internal improvements within the country (Mahoney 250).
Eventually, the use of broad constitutional interpretation to justify every action of the government became so controversial that the Supreme Court chose to address it in McCulloch v. Maryland. Marshall and the Supreme Court’s ruling of the case stated that the federal government possessed the right to perform actions that the Constitution refrains from specifically stating, which basically reiterated the concepts mentioned in the Elastic Clause of the United States Constitution. As a result of this ruling by the Supreme Court, the government now recognized the Bank of the United States as a permanent, constitutional institution.
The Supreme Court’s ruling not only recognized the doctrine of implied powers that comes from broad constitutional interpretation, but it also gave Congress a significantly expanded role in the government (“McCulloch” Supreme 874). Chief Justice John Marshall believed that the government should possess numerous implied powers from the Constitution in order to successfully preserve the nation; however, he never intended for the government to reinterpret the powers of the government whenever the rules of command became problematic (Gillman 1632).
If the actions of Congress and the federal government at least maintained a consistency with the essence of the Constitution, then Marshall believed that the country should recognize their actions as constitutional (“McCulloch” Supreme 877). Broad interpretation of the Constitution not only allows the government to carry out the necessary laws and mandates to help the people of the country, but it also protects the rights and liberties of the American population by allowing the government to adapt to the constantly changing crises of the world.
As stated throughout the paper, the government should continue to enforce the ruling of McCulloch v. Maryland to this day because of its momentous influence on the organization of the government, and its verdict relating to federal government supremacy and broad constitutional interpretation. The case all began because of the brave actions of a rebellious banker and the controversy started over the constitutionality of the Bank of the United States, but the ruling of the case held a much greater influence on the future of America. Although the Supreme Court’s decision violated the principles of states’ rights and otentially allowed government corruption through centralization, it proved more beneficial than harmful to the country in the long run. By establishing that the federal government holds absolute power in the administrative system of the country, the Supreme Court altered the ideals of the Constitution in order to develop an authoritative method of ruling the country that would last for ages to come and would guarantee the equal protection of American citizens.
Additionally, McCulloch v. Maryland gave Congress an expanded role in the government by allowing the process of broad constitutional interpretation and allowing the administration to dapt to the country’s struggles at the time. Although still controversial, these numerous decisions by the Supreme Court continue to preserve the principles of the Constitution that the Framers founded the country upon. If the Supreme Court never decided to take this case, the United States of America would never develop into the great country that the world views it as at present. To this day, historians recognize McCulloch v. Maryland as one of the most significant Supreme Court cases of American history because of its formative declaration that influences every aspect of the United States government today.