Pleading the case on behalf of McCulloch, the eminent jurist Daniel Webster argued that Maryland had no authority to tax the bank. The essence of his argument was quite simple: "An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy."
The court agreed. Speaking for a unanimous court, Chief Justice John Marshall echoed Webster's words. He wrote, "The power to tax implies the power to destroy. If the States may tax one instrument, may they not tax every other instrument…? This was not intended by the American people."
Consequently, with the help of these two highly esteemed jurists, we have conclusively settled a point of contention among many scholars — that the unlimited power to tax is the power to destroy, clear and simple. And without question, the government has an unlimited power in this respect.
Let us now examine some of the many ways in which the power to tax destroys.