Question: What landmark Supreme Court cases debated state vs. federal power?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What landmark Supreme Court cases debated state vs. federal power?

Each of the following cases led to a strengthening of the federal (national) government. You need to know that according to the Constitution’s supremacy clause, all federal laws and decisions are superior to those made by the states.

1. McCulloch v. Maryland, 1819 - Because the State of Maryland wanted to get rid of a branch of the Bank of the United States, it put a tax on banknotes. Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that a state could not tax a federal entity. He said that the power to tax meant “the power to destroy.”

2. Gibbons v. Ogden, 1824 - Thomas Gibbons was issued a license from the federal government for steamship commerce between New York and New Jersey. Aaron Ogden was issued a similar license from New York State. Marshall said that Gibbons had the legitimate license, because the federal government regulated interstate commerce (commerce between different states). Thus, Marshall upheld the supremacy of the federal government.

NOTE: To this day, the issue of interstate commerce pops up in federal courts.

 

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