Britney Spears: congressmen demand hearing on use of conservatorships
Two Republican congressmen have called for the House of Representatives to hold hearings about the use of conservatorships in the US in the wake of the Framing Britney Spears documentary.
Broadcast in February, the New York Times-produced film traces the events that led to Spears being bound by such an arrangement – which restricts her autonomy over her finances, career and healthcare – since her breakdown in 2008.
In a letter to house judiciary committee chairman Jerry Nadler, congressmen Matt Gaetz (Florida) and Jim Jordan (Ohio) wrote: “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.”
The terms of Spears’s situation are subject to further court hearings. She has requested that her father, Jamie Spears, be removed as conservator and replaced by an independent fiduciary. He is currently co-conservator.
Her lawyer Samuel D Ingham III has said the star wants the process to be made more transparent: “Britney herself is vehemently opposed to this effort by her father to keep her legal struggle hidden away in the closet as a family secret.”
Gaetz and Jordan said that while Spears was the “most striking example”, she was not alone: “There are countless other Americans unjustly stripped of their freedoms by others with little recourse.
“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.”
The two congressmen characterised Jamie Spears as having “questionable motives and legal tactics”.
A lawyer for Jamie Spears, Vivian Thoreen, rejected the claims. “Jamie Spears has diligently and professionally carried out his duties as one of Britney’s conservators, and his love for his daughter and dedication to protecting her is clearly apparent to the court,” she told TMZ.
The congressmen’s letter cited the American Civil Liberties Union’s response to Spears’s case, which described her as “only one of untold thousands nationwide under or at risk of guardianship or conservatorship”.
Spears herself has not issued any direct statements regarding the hearings about her conservatorship. On 9 February, she tweeted that she was “taking the time to learn and be a normal person … I love simply enjoying the basics of every day life !!!!”
In a subsequent tweet, she wrote: “Each person has their story and their take on other people’s stories !!!! We all have so many different bright beautiful lives !!! Remember, no matter what we think we know about a person’s life it is nothing compared to the actual person living behind the lens !!!!”
The next hearing in her case is set to take place on 17 March.