The need for people to understand, appreciate and assert their constitutional rights grows increasingly more urgent as these rights are being eroded from the fabric of our society each and every day.
In recent decades, police agencies have adopted increasingly invasive and controversial 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.
In 2001, in the wake of the September 11 attack, Congress hastily passed the USA PATRIOT Act, further eroding constitutional protections of our privacy and liberty. Sustaining this 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 know and assert their constitutional rights in order to keep them strong and secure. Moreover, the simple and proper assertion of these rights is a citizen's first and best protection from the indignity and inconvenience of improper police searches and arrests, consumer fraud, slumlords, and other abuses.