Supremacy Clause (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
Article VI, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution is known as the Supremacy Clause because it provides that the "Constitution, and the Laws of the United States shall be the supreme Law of the Land." It means that the federal government, in exercising any of the powers enumerated in the Constitution, must prevail over any conflicting or inconsistent state exercise of power.
The concept of federal supremacy was developed by Chief Justice JOHN MARSHALL, who led the Supreme Court from 1801 to 1835. In MCCULLOCH V. MARYLAND, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 316, 4 L. Ed. 579 (1819), the Court invalidated a Maryland law that taxed all banks in the state, including a branch of the national bank located at Baltimore. Marshall held that although none of the enumerated powers of Congress explicitly authorized the incorporation of the national bank, the NECESSARY AND PROPER CLAUSE provided the basis for Congress's action. Having established that the exercise of authority was proper, Marshall concluded that "the government of the Union, though limited in its power, is supreme within its sphere of action."
After the Civil War, the Supreme Court was more supportive of STATES' RIGHTS and used the TENTH AMENDMENT, which provides that the powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states or to the people, to justify its...
(The entire section is 578 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!