- Two GOP congressmen requested a congressional hearing on court-mandated conservatorships.
- Reps. Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz cited the “Free Britney” movement in a letter on Tuesday.
- Spears’ circumstances suggest “questionable motives and legal tactics” by her father, they said.
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Two Republican congressmen on the House Judiciary Committee asked the panel’s Democratic chairman, Rep. Jerry Nadler, to hold a hearing on court-ordered conservatorships, citing the “Free Britney” movement.
The movement refers to the singer Britney Spears, who was the subject of The New York Times documentary, “Framing Britney Spears.” The film is streamed on Hulu and examines the pop star’s 13-year fight for control of her estate after a court placed her under a conservatorship, essentially stripping her of the right to her own fortune and placing it in Spears’ father’s control.
“In recent years, there has been growing public concern about the use of conservatorships to effectively deprive individuals of personal freedoms at the behest of others through the manipulation of the courts,” the letter from Reps. Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz said. “A project funded by the US Department of Justice to examine conservator exploitation found that ‘financial exploitation by conservators often goes unchecked by courts’ and there is a ‘dire need for guardianship/conservatorship reform.'”
-Alayna Treene (@alaynatreene) March 9, 2021
The letter went on to note that the American Civil Liberties Union recently said conservatorships “should be viewed with skepticism and used as a last resort,” but that in most cases, they’re imposed “routinely and without substantive engagement.”
The practice paves the way for individuals to be “stripped of virtually all of their civil rights through guardianships and conservatorships,” the ACLU said, and reforms should be implemented so these individuals can “direct their own lives.”
“The most striking example is perhaps the case of multi-platinum performing artist Britney Spears,” Jordan and Gaetz’s letter said, adding that “since 2008, Ms. Spears has been under a court-ordered conservatorship.”
“The facts and circumstances giving rise to this arrangement remain in dispute but involve questionable motives and legal tactics by her father and now-conservator, Jamie Spears,” it continued. The letter also cited Daniel Gross, a Long Island resident who was involuntarily placed under a conservatorship and kept in a nursing home for 10 months before being released in 2006.
“In what the judge labeled as ‘a terrible miscarriage of justice,’ Mr. Gross was locked in a Connecticut nursing home for 10 months despite his pleas for release,” Jordan and Gaetz’s letter said. “Given the constitutional freedoms at stake and opaqueness of these arrangements, it is incumbent upon our Committee to convene a hearing to examine whether Americans are trapped unjustly in conservatorships.”