Two members of the US House of Representatives are moving to introduce a bipartisan bill directly inspired by the ongoing Britney Spears conservatorship battle.
As New York Times report, representatives Charlie Crist, Democrat of Flordia, and Representative Nancy Mace, Republican of South Carolina, have introduced the bipartisan Freedom and Right to Emancipate from Exploitation (FREE) act. If passed, the bill will act as a federal safeguard for individuals under conservatorships.
The FREE Act has been dubbed a “four-pronged approach” to protecting conservatees. The bill would include the right for individuals under guardianship to petition to the court to have a private guardian or conservator replaced with a state-employed public guardian, family member, or private agent without having to prove misconduct or abuse.
The FREE act petitions for an independent caseworker to be assigned to conservatorship to monitor for signs of abuse or neglect. It also calls for disclosure of finances from caseworkers and guardians, in an attempt to combat fraud.
“We want to make sure that we bring transparency and accountability to the conservatorship process,” said Mace in a statement to The New York Times. “If this can happen to [Britney Spears], it can happen to anybody.”
The FREE Act arrives at the apex of the unfurling #FreeBritney movement, inspired by Britney Spears’ unsuccessful court petitions to remove her father, Jamie Spears, as conservator. Representatives argue that that these unsuccessful petitions are indicative that Britney’s right to due process has been violated.
On Wednesday, June 24th, Britney Spears delivered her first public testimony in front of a Los Angeles court, formally asking a judge to end her decade-long conservatorship.
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The testimony saw Spears delve into the last 13 years of her life, spent under a conservatorship controlled by her father Jamie Spears. Spears told a judge that the conservatorship was “abusive” and that it had “traumatized” her.
In recent developments, Judge Brenda Penny ruled that Britney Spears would be allowed to hire her own lawyer in her ongoing conservatorship legal battle. Britney’s court-appointed lawyer, Samuel D. Ingham III, announced his resignation earlier this month.
As Variety report, Spears has been in talks with celebrity lawyer Mathew Rosengart, a former federal prosecutor who has previously represented the likes of Steven Spielberg, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Keanu Reeves.
Hiring Rosengart as her legal representative would be Spears’ first drastic step in terminating her conservatorship altogether.