#FreeBritney Reaches Congress, Prompting Bipartisan Conservatorship Bill

Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images

Congress is joining the efforts to #FreeBritney. The fight to end Britney Spears’s conservatorship, which has recently become much more publicized after the pop star gave a landmark damning testimony about the conservatorship’s effects on her life, has prompted a new bill aimed at protecting those in conservatorships. The bipartisan proposal, introduced July 20 by Representative Nancy Mace (a Republican of South Carolina) and Representative Charlie Crist (a Democrat of Florida), is called the Freedom and Right to Emancipate from Exploitation Act, or FREE Act. Most prominently, the bill would allow a person in a conservatorship to petition to replace their court-appointed private conservator with a public conservator, family member, or private agent, without having to prove abuse. The bill would also offer state funding for case workers to monitor conservatorships, with states that accept the funds requiring both case workers and public guardians to disclose their finances. States would then, in turn, also have to report on conservatorships annually. The bill makes specific reference to “pop icon Britney Spears,” along with other recent allegations of misconduct in conservatorships. “The inability of Britney Spears to free herself from her father’s control,” the bill says, along with those other allegations, “indicate that State guardianship and conservatorship systems can deprive a United States citizen or resident of liberty and property without due process.”

In a statement announcing the bill, Crist said, “Under the FREE Act, we would Free Britney along with the countless number of seniors and other persons with disabilities being abused and exploited by the broken system.” Mace called Spears’s conservatorship “a nightmare,” adding that her situation “reveals a darker side to a system meant to protect people.”

The FREE Act is not the only recent bill focused on conservatorships, after the Guardianship Accountability Act of 2019, introduced in August, aimed to establish resources related to guardianships but stalled in the House Judiciary Committee. However, Crist told the New York Times he expects the FREE Act to be popular in Congress for being specifically focused. “That gives us a much greater opportunity to have success,” he said. One representative they can likely count on for support would be Representative Matt Gaetz, the controversial far-right figure who has been following Spears’s legal battle over her conservatorship — as he fights allegations of sex-trafficking against himself. “We need Nancy Pelosi to make [this] a priority,” he told press outside a recent hearing, referring to legal action on conservatorships.

Spears has yet to publicly comment on the bill, but did post an Instagram update shortly after it was proposed, and just days after she was approved to switch her legal representation in the case. “I think we all know that I will never be able to let go and fully move on until I’ve said all I needed to say … and I’m not even close !!!!” she wrote, alluding to possible testimony in future hearings. “I was told to stay quiet about things for so long and I finally feel like I’m just getting here 🕊️🕊️🕊️ !!!!”

#FreeBritney Reaches Congress, Prompts Conservatorship Bill