The need for people to understand, appreciate, and assert their constitutional rights has grown more urgent as these very rights have been eroded.

Over recent decades, police agencies have adopted increasingly invasive and controversial police tactics, which turn innocent citizens into suspects. Concurrently, the Supreme Court has usually ruled in favor of expanding the scope of police power — especially for the purpose of fighting illegal drugs.

One of the most disturbing consequences of this apparent “drug exception to the Constitution” has been the use of racial profiling to determine which drivers will be stopped for minor traffic offenses in order to be searched for contraband.

Sustaining the erosion of traditional constitutional rights is a complicit citizenry, which has become dangerously permissive of everyday abuses of police power. For example, most people during the course of a traffic stop are likely to waive their rights without even knowing it.

Fortunately, these trends are neither inevitable nor irreversible.

Just as regular physical exercise strengthens muscles atrophied from underuse, innocent citizens must “flex” their constitutional rights in order to keep them strong and secure. Moreover, the simple and knowledgeable assertion of these rights is a citizen’s first and best protection from the indignity and inconvenience of improper police searches and arrests.