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Interpretation of the Constitution

Chief Justice John Marshall emphasized that the constitution gave congress the power to make all `necessary and proper laws` needed to carry out its delegated powers. How did the necessary and proper clause apply to the case of Mcculloch v. Maryland? What was the impact of this clause on the scope of federal power? The clause in question applied in the case as the Constitution does not enumerate the power to create a National Bank among the powers granted to congress.

This being the case, the Court had to decide whether such a power is implied by the so-called “necessary and proper” clause in article 1 section 8 of the US Constitution. By finding that the creation of a Bank was a power implied by the commerce clause and various taxation powers granted to congress, Marshall and the court opened the door for congress to expand federal power a great deal. If the legislature could in any way connect a given piece of legislation to something that it is specifically empowered to do, then it has the ability, in using this precedent, to enact a much broader range of laws than was originally defined for it.

The interpretation of the “necessary and

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proper” clause, sometimes referred to as the “elastic clause (because it affords flexibility to the interpretation of the Constitution) was the beginning of a series of decisions that significantly broadened the scope of federal power by allowing congress to legislate in matters only tangentially related to its constitutionally enumerated powers. Also, by explicitly indicating that no state could pass a law that overruled the federal prerogative, the court further expanded federal power.

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