Gaetz, Jordan ask House Judiciary to probe conservatorships, citing 'Free Britney'

March 12, 2021
In The News

GOP Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio) and Matt Gaetz (Fla.) on Monday called on House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) to hold a hearing on court-ordered conservatorships, citing the ongoing "Free Britney" campaign to release Britney Spears from hers.

The congressmen indicated in their letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Hill, that they feel conservatorships are a violation of the Constitution, as they limit an individual's "legal autonomy" and control over their finances.

“When situations suggest the unjust deprivation of those rights by the government, we have an obligation to conduct oversight and explore potential remedies,” the Republicans wrote.

“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 continued. “The most striking example is perhaps the case of multi-platinum performing artist Britney Spears.”

Conservatorships are a legal concept in which a judge gives one or more guardians full control over a person's finances if there is reason to believe that the individual is physically or mentally unable to take care of themselves. Spears was placed under a conservatorship in 2008 after suffering a public mental health crisis.

Gaetz and Jordan cited “questionable motives and legal tactics” made by Spears’s father, Jamie Spears, as supporting their skepticism.

“Ms. Spears is not alone,” the representatives wrote. “There are countless other Americans unjustly stripped of their freedoms by others with little recourse.”

They also cited the case of Daniel Gross of Long Island, N.Y., who was held in a nursing home for 10 months after being involuntarily placed into a conservatorship.

"Given the constitutional freedom 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 lawmakers added.

Gaetz later tweeted on Tuesday that "Congress can #FreeBritney and @RepJerryNadler has the power to convene a needed hearing on conservatorship due process."

The Free Britney movement began in 2019 after online rumors broke out that the pop star wanted to be freed of her conservatorship. The movement gained new momentum in February after the New York Times documentary "Framing Britney Spears" was released on Hulu.

Andrew Wallet, a former co-conservator of Spears's estate, resigned in 2019 after 11 years, saying that "irreparable harm and immediate danger will result to [Britney Spears] and her estate."

The "Womanizer" singer cinched a legal victory against her father last month when a judge ruled that Jamie Spears did not have the sole power to delegate his daughter's investments and had to share the power with wealth management company Bessemer Trust. Britney Spears has requested that Bessemer Trust be made the sole conservator of her estate and that her father be removed.