Britney Spears invited to Congress to discuss conservatorship fight: ‘I feel heard’
Britney Spears has been invited by members of Congress to speak about her nearly 14-year-long conservatorship.
On Wednesday (16 February), Spears shared a letter on Instagram signed by Democratic congressmen Charlie Crist of Florida and Eric Swalwell of California.
Congratulating Spears and her lawyer, Matthew Rosengart, on their “historic victories”, the lawmakers invited the 40-year-old to discuss her experiences with members of Congress at her earliest convenience.
“It goes without saying that we have been following your conservatorship closely and were elated that you were able to both remove your father as a years-long conservator… and finally terminate your conservatorship,” Crist and Swalwell wrote on 1 December.
“Your journey towards justice will inspire and empower many others who are improperly silenced by the conservatorship process.”
At the time, Spears had only just been released from her conservatorship, freeing her from her father Jamie Spears’ control, who had run both her life and her $60 million estate for more than a decade.
Sharing the letter nearly three months after she received it, Spears did not say whether she will accept the invitation to Washington, DC.
She was “immediately flattered,” she said, however stressed that she was not yet at the “healing stage” she is at now.
“I’m grateful that my story was even acknowledged,” Spears wrote. “Because of the letter, I felt heard and like I mattered for the first time in my life!!!”
View this post on Instagram
Britney Spears: ‘I want to help others in vulnerable situations’
Britney Spears continued: “In a world where your own family goes against you, it’s actually hard to find people that get it and show empathy!!!!
“Again, I’m not here to be a victim although I’m the first to admit I’m pretty messed up by it all … I want to help others in vulnerable situations, take life by the balls and be brave!!! I wish I would have been.
“I was so scared and nothing is worse than your own family doing what they did to me … I’m lucky to have a small circle of adorable friends who I can count on.”
In the meantime, the “Toxic” hitmaker said: “Thank you to Congress for inviting me to the White House.”
As Spears shared unsettling stories in court and on social media about the alleged “abuse” she suffered, her words raised alarm bells among activists and lawmakers concerned about conservatorships.
In their letter, the Congress members detailed a laundry list of concerns, such as allegations that Spears’ conservators forced her to work while under the arrangement as well as her not being able to choose her own legal counsel.
“Many concerning issues that are commonplace in the guardianship and conservatorship process were brought to light,” the Congress members added.
“To that end,” the letter continues, “we wanted to personally invite you and your counsel to meet with us in Congress at a mutually convenient time to describe in your own words how you achieved justice.
“There is no doubt that your story will empower countless others outside the millions that are already inspired by you and your art.”
There are at least 1.3 million active conservatorships, known as guardianships in some states, in the US, according to estimates in 2018 report by the National Council on Disability.
The figure, likely even higher given that each state does conservatorships differently, has more than tripled in the past three decades.
These arrangements are intended as a last resort to protect vulnerable people, typically the old or the infirm, from financial exploitation or other harms. But disability activists see otherwise, seeing the safety nets are being too broad and being too difficult to get out of.
What goes on within them is also hard to get a grip on, with a report by the Government Accountability Office in 2016 warning that “the extent of elder abuse by guardians nationally is unknown”.
Under some conservatorships, people can even be stripped of the right to vote, drive, marry, or seek and retain employment. Spears, for example, has expressed how she was unable to marry her partner, Sam Asghari, or be made to have an IUD, barring her from having a baby.
Lawmakers Elizabeth Warren and Bob Casey have previously skewered conservatorships, saying that Spears’ case shines a light on “longstanding concerns” and demonstrates that the system must be urgently reformed – or scrapped altogether.
Some experts, such as the Uniform Law Commission which drafts model statutes, recommend a more supported decision-making approach that would see conservatees have more say in their day-to-day life.
But to date, just Washington and Maine have rolled out the commission’s recommendations, giving conservatees like Spears more rights.
More: Britney Spears