Two men are back-to-back in front of a white background.
Phil Harriman (left) and Ethan Strimling Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

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Phil Harriman, a former town councilor and state senator from Yarmouth, is the founding partner of Lebel & Harriman, a financial services firm. Ethan Strimling, a former mayor and state senator from Portland, is the president of Swing Hard. Turn Left, which promotes progressive policy at the local, state and national levels. 

Ethan: That was certainly a disgusting week at the Supreme Court. Nearly everyone is now allowed to carry a gun. No one is allowed to get an abortion. And our tax dollars must now fund religious teachings.

Phil: A little overly emotional don’t you think? 

Ethan: That is an understatement.

Phil: Remember the right to an abortion in Maine remains legal. We already allow concealed-carry without a permit. And our tax dollars are simply allowing parents to choose what school they send their child to, if there is no public school in their community. Those decisions were constitutional, and will have very little impact in Maine. 

Ethan: While abortion may still be legal in Maine, if Paul LePage wins the governorship and Republicans win the State House, as you have predicted, there will only be a Democratic state Senate standing up for women’s sovereignty. 

Phil: LePage has already made clear his issue is with taxpayer-funded and late-term abortions. However, as a pro-choice Republican, you know I have said I believe that the federal government should codify Roe and Maine should protect that right through our constitution. 

Ethan: And if Republicans win in the fall, at the state or federal level, none of what you want to occur will happen.

Phil: Republicans did not try to take away this right in 2010 when we controlled all three branches in Maine and I don’t see my party trying to do it in 2022. 

Ethan: As for guns, since we decided to allow people to secretly carry firearms into shopping malls, churches, restaurants, etc, annual gun deaths in Maine have increased from an average of 110 a year in the decade prior to 2015, to an annual average of 155 in the years after. And the last three years have had the highest number of gun deaths in Maine’s history. With the court’s ruling, expect that trend to continue.

Phil: That is a pretty big leap to say that the increase in gun deaths is related to concealed carry laws. I didn’t necessarily support the change, as you know, but there is no way we were reversing that law after the overwhelming legislative support it received in 2015. No matter what the Supreme Court said.

Ethan: Just about every law enforcement agency in the state came out against that law, and had the Supreme Court ruled that states could deny permits to people who had no reason to carry concealed weapons, I have no doubt an effort would have been put in place to go back to what had been Maine law for a century.

Phil: Maine could still put its permitting policy back in place, something I might support, but they just can’t deny someone a permit for no reason, something I definitely support. 

Ethan: In terms of funding religious schools with taxpayer dollars, as a fiscal conservative who believes in the separation of church and state, I hope you find this ruling egregious.

Phil: I don’t actually. I believe we should always be doing what’s best for the child. And if a parent believes a religious school is what their child needs, they should be able to send them there, regardless of their income. And since Maine law will not allow our money to go to schools that don’t abide by the Maine Human Rights Act, all this is likely moot.

Ethan: Yes, that was a positive revelation by our attorney general. But it will only remain positive until the court rules that we can’t deny funds to schools that don’t believe the LGBTQ community should be treated equally. Something Clarence Thomas has made clear he thinks they should do.

Phil: And when that happens (which it won’t), I will be happy to join in your hyperbole. Until then, relax. It’s summer.