How did the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Constitution construct Dual Federalism? Focus on the legal arguments, not the facts of the cases.

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One important U.S. Supreme Court case that interpreted the Constitution to support dual federalism was McCullough v. Maryland (1819). This case was concerned with the establishment of a U.S. national bank. The case arose over the second attempt to establish such a bank; the first, created in 1791 under President George Washington, had not been maintained. In part because the Second Bank’s policies were understood to have caused an economic depression, and in part because of fundamental principles, several states opposed the creation of the Bank. Those states, including Maryland, imposed taxes on the bank’s operations in their state.

The court under Chief Justice John Marshall reviewed the case. His 1819 opinion considered the federal government’s legitimate ability to establish such a bank, given that the Constitution did not enumerate this power. Although it was not enumerated, Marshall said that enumeration was not a necessary requirement for every point of federal authority. Rather, he supported the idea of the Constitution marking “great outlines” of federal authority. He associated the creation of the bank with Article I, Section 8, which empowers Congress to make “necessary and proper” laws that will enable execution of the enumerated powers. Maryland, he concluded, did not have the constitutional right to tax the bank.

Another landmark Supreme Court case that supported dual federalism was the 1857 Dred Scott case, which was concerned with slavery. Roger Taney was Chief Justice in this case. The Court rejected the idea that the federal government could prohibit slavery in any state. Scott left a state where slavery was legal and entered Missouri, a non-slavery state. He sued for his freedom, but ultimately his suit was denied.

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