Federalism in the American form of government is a distinctly unique form that is not practiced elsewhere. Quite unlike any other system established, American federalism was formed upon specifically American ideals of liberty. Federalism gives both the national and the state government separate spheres of authority, which cannot be tainted by the other. Consequently, while states retain a degree of sovereignty, nationalistic interests can still pervade regional concerns and the federal government can assert control when necessary. Not only does the federal system in America allow the government to act upon the needs of the nation, but it limits the possibility of control of the government by a particular faction and provides a safeguard against the"tyranny of the majority.".
Clearly, Federalism is the groundwork for the American government. It sets up the separation of powers, checks and balances, and the relationships between state and federal governments. The constitutional vagueness (particularly on the definition of federalism) that we have become so accustomed to leads the incredible importance of the court and its ongoing role of providing us with clarity on the issue. Justice O"Connor's "protect us from our own best intentions" quote very plainly points out the importance of federalism. The overwhelming significance of the each decision made concerning federalism must be consistent with this notion of protecting ourselves for our "own best interests" that is to say from the centralization of power. .
Chief Justice Marshall's ideals are set forth in the given quote as he explains the reasoning and need for vagueness in the Constitution (and therefore federalism). Basically, he expresses only the need for a framework or "outline" of the main objectives, pointing out that the rest of the definition ("minor ingredients") can be deduced from these main objectives. More specifically, he sets the stage for the Supreme Court to fill in the blanks so to speak.