Two GOP Congressmen have asked for a hearing to examine if conservatorships are unjustly stripping affected Americans of their legal autonomy, citing the circumstances of pop star Britany Spears, who has been under a court ordered conservatorship since 2008.
U.S. Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) tweeted an open letter to House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) on Tuesday, urging him to conduct oversight into the use of court manipulated conservatorships to “deprive individuals of personal freedoms at the behest of others.”
Spears has been under the control of her father, Jamie Spears, since several high-profile meltdowns led to a 2008 court order that granted him conservatorship over her finances. The singer has been attempting to break free of Jamie’s hold, and has refused to perform until her father is no longer in control of her career.
Public outcry over her situation flared in February when the film Framing Britney Spears highlighted the years of media abuse Spears endured and the ensuing 12 year loss of her personal autonomy. Gaetz, a fan since her 1998 hit “…Baby One More Time,” was politically motivated by the documentary.
“If the conservatorship process can rip the agency from a woman who was in the prime of her life and one of the most powerful pop stars in the world, imagine what it can do to people who are less powerful and have less of a voice,” Gaetz said in an interview. “I’ve heard the story of those people in Florida and I am concerned about access to due process for wards.”
“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,” wrote Gaetz and Jordan, who are both members of the Judiciary Committee.
If Nader approves the hearing, Gaetz would like to focus on a “bill of rights for wards,” that would include opportunities to review ongoing conservatorships, financial audits, and voting rights.
“There are likely pros and cons to many of the legislative proposals that have been floated in prior years,” he remarked. “But this might be a good time to dust those off and give them a real thorough review.”
“The most striking example is perhaps the case of multi-platinum performing artist Britney Spears.” pic.twitter.com/tfE8KJAZ4s
— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) March 9, 2021