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Citing #FreeBritney Movement, GOP Congressmen Ask for Federal Hearings Into Conservatorships

Congressmen Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) are urging House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) to hold hearings about conservatorships such as the one that currently oversees the life of pop icon Britney Spears.

Gaetz and Jordan -- moved by the recent growing outcry from the #FreeBritney movement after the Framing Britney Spears documentary aired in February -- said it is “incumbent upon our Committee to convene a hearing to examine whether Americans are trapped unjustly in conservatorships.”

Spears has been in a conservatorship overseen predominantly by her father since 2008 when the singer was just 28. Now age 39, many Spears fans, her former attorney and friends have come forward questioning whether there is still a reason for a restrictive conservatorship over the singer’s personal and financial life. Spears herself has asked to open up the legal process, where many hearings have been sealed, saying in court papers that it is good public policy to appoint a new conservator of her estate be made in as open and transparent a matter as possible.

“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,” Spears’ court-appointed attorney Samuel Ingham III wrote in court papers in September.

Gaetz and Jordan agree, calling for a federal hearing to examine not just Spears' conservatorship, but the system in general,  according to a press release from Gaetz.

“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,” Rep. Gaetz said in a statement. “I’ve heard the story of those people in Florida, and I am concerned about access to due process for wards.”

In the letter to Nadler, Gaetz and Jordan urge the chairman to take up the conservatorship issue, saying that there has been “growing public concern about the use of conservatorships to effectively deprive individuals of personal freedoms.” Spears, they said, is the “most striking example,” but she is not alone.

“There are countless other Americans unjustly stripped of their freedoms by others with little recourse,” the letter to Nadler states. “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.”