'Here & Now' Highlights: Howard Schweber, Jon McCray Jones

Here's what guests on the March 1, 2024 episode said about the Wisconsin Supreme Court consideration of state abortion laws and audio police surveillance of Milwaukee neighborhoods.

By Frederica Freyberg | Here & Now

March 4, 2024

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Frederica Freyberg sits at a desk on the Here & Now set and faces a video monitor showing an image of Howard Schweber.

Frederica Freyberg and Howard Schweber (Credit: PBS Wisconsin)

Parties in the lawsuit over abortion law in Wisconsin want the state Supreme Court to take the case, bypassing the state’s appeals court — University of Wisconsin Law School professor Howard Schweber described how he thinks the court might consider the issues. Locations of gunshot detection technology in Milwaukee prompted the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin to call for public oversight —policy analyst Jon McCray Jones questioned the effects of this police surveillance in marginalized communities.

Howard Schweber
Professor, University of Wisconsin Law School

  • Parties on opposing sides of whether abortion is legal in Wisconsin and which laws govern the procedure want the state Supreme Court to settle the question. They have petitioned the court to take the case, bypassing the state Court of Appeals. Schweber said the high court has a lot to consider, but could simplify the questions over multiple laws.
  • Schweber: “It’s worth pointing out that the 1849 law is not the only law issue. There’s a 1985 law that says after 22 weeks, abortions are permitted only where the life or health of the woman is at risk. And there are a series, actually, of other lesser-known laws. There’s a 2015 law that effectively makes that limit 20 weeks. There’s an informed consent law. There’s a 24 hour delay law. … And it’s not just the question of are abortions allowed or up until what point, but there’s a whole series of laws that could be at stake in a ruling by this court. The court has, of course, a new majority regarded as liberal, which is assumed more and more friendly to abortion rights. But for both sides, it is useful to get clear answers. … I think the most likely outcome is one that will perfectly satisfy neither side.,which is something to the effect of saying that the 1985 law is valid and remains in force. and in that way avoiding the question of the 1849 law altogether by simply saying if it did apply to abortions, it’s been superseded. That would be the easy, efficient solution. And frankly, it’s the one I’m hoping the court will take.”


Jon McCray Jones
Policy analyst, American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin

  • A gunshot detection system in use in Milwaukee called ShotSpotter is under new scrutiny after the location of its audio sensors was recently leaked. A map of locations of the microphones used to detect gunfire to activate police response shows the surveillance in predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods. ACLU of Wisconsin is calling for a city ordinance providing public oversight of such policing technology. McCray Jones discussed how law enforcement can use ShotSpotter activations as probable cause to search people nearby.
  • McCray Jones: “The fact that some unlucky person who’s walking around at night, who happens to just to be in the vicinity of a ShotSpotter alert, now has a probable charge to be stopped and frisked. It’s kind of dystopian. I mean, the idea that you’re walking through your community and just because some technology that … there was over 40,000 dead-end deployments in the city of Chicago in a two-year span. So there’s unreliable technology — sends out an alert, police are sent to your community. And now your stop and frisk — just because you’re walking alone at night inside the vicinity.”


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