First Amendment: Is our constitutional right to publish something going to be decided by the likes of Sen. Dick Durbin? If so, our republic and the liberty it guarantees are in trouble.
Late last month, Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, wrote a column for the Chicago Sun Times in which he conceded that "Everyone, regardless of the mode of expression, has a constitutionally protected right to free speech."
But that doesn't mean Durbin accepts that there is an absolute freedom of expression.
"When it comes to freedom of the press," he continued, "I believe we must define a journalist and the constitutional and statutory protections those journalists should receive."
And who is to define who is and isn't a journalist? Durbin and his colleagues, of course.
Congress, when controlled by Democrats, already has the mainstream media under its thumb. So it's not ABC, NBC, CBS, the New York Times and the Washington Post that Durbin is worried about. It's the bloggers, tweeters and Facebook users that he wants to control.
Durbin suggests this is all about laws that protect journalists from being "compelled to disclose sources or documents unless a judge determines there is an extraordinary circumstance or compelling public interest."
But, as he says, 49 states already have laws that do this.
With the mainstream press in their pockets, what Durbin and others truly fear are citizen journalists and the free and open dissemination of ideas that threaten the political class' agenda.
They don't want bloggers rabble-rousing against ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank. They hate the idea of Twitter being alight with criticisms of the left's efforts to have government "do good things."
They resent citizens using message boards to condemn the White House's attempts to redistribute wealth, its imperial tendencies, its miserably failed foreign policy and its growing list of scandals.
And they certainly want to chill discussions of how the political left has abandoned — after once being a reliable defender of it — the First Amendment.
With cellphones, pads and laptops in every home and car, we are all journalists ready to document, report, record and discuss.
Washington hasn't the moral authority to say who is and who isn't a journalist. The First Amendment was written to stop the government from doing exactly that.