The #FreeBritney movement goes to Congress
The recently-introduced, bipartisan Free Act would make it easier for those under a conservatorship to free themselves.
Fans of the legendary pop singer Britney Spears have been championing the #FreeBritney movement for years, even before news arrived that Spears has been controlled by an abusive conservatorship for the last 13 years.
Spears fans found “clues” in many of her TikTok videos and Instagram posts, claiming that something about her demeanor and behavior just isn’t right, and expressing major concerns for her mental and emotional well-being.
These concerns were quickly dismissed as “conspiracy theories” by her father, Jamie Spears, who currently controls everything about his daughter’s life, from her finances to her reproductive decisions.
Recently, after over a decade of not speaking publicly on the topic, the star decided to be vulnerable and shared the trauma of her abusive conservatorship.
In June, she petitioned an LA court to end the arrangement that has dominated her personal life, career and finances since 2009. In her testimony, she revealed she had been forced to work against her will, been blocked from marrying whom she wishes to, and prohibited from removing her IUD to have a baby, and more.
Dear @britneyspears ….I feel like we owe you an apology. We bought into the whole hype of BRITNEY the performer, without much consideration for how Britney Jean Spears, the person, was coping through each day. Looking back now, I remember you saying this in front of me… pic.twitter.com/I80ODPKPvq
— Zachary Gordon (@ZacharyGordon95) June 22, 2021
Celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, Paris Hilton, Ariana Grande, John Oliver, Ashley Benson, Pete Davidson and more have expressed their solidarity with Spears, wishing her peace, autonomy and freedom. Even Planned Parenthood has joined the movement.
We stand in solidarity with Britney and all women who face reproductive coercion. Your reproductive health is your own — and no one should make decisions about it for you. #FreeBritney https://t.co/jkx5ZpOdFT
— Alexis McGill Johnson (@alexismcgill) June 23, 2021
Now, U.S. Congress wants to free her, and two representatives have introduced bipartisan legislation to place restrictions on arrangements like Spears’.
Florida Rep. Charlie Crist and South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace introduced the Freedom and Right to Emancipate from Exploitation — or FREE — Act, on Tuesday, July 20.
The FREE Act would give conservatees the right to request that a judge replace privately appointed guardians. According to the New York Times, under the act, people in a position such as Spears would not be required to bring forth any evidence of abuse to petition for a new conservator.
Rep. Crist told the Times that the intention behind this legislation is to bring “transparency and accountability” to the process of conservatorship.
“The Britney Spears conservatorship, it’s a nightmare. If this can happen to her, it can happen to anybody,” he said.
The bill would offer state funding for case workers to supervise conservatorships. States accepting the funds would require case workers and public guardians to disclose their finances, and provide annual reports on the conservatorships.
“Under the Free Act, we would free Britney along with the countless numbers of seniors and persons with disabilities being abused and exploited by the broken system,” said Crist.
However, the FREE Act does not outline an easier path towards ending these arrangements, as Spears has repeatedly stated she wishes to do. Last month, the singer said that she “just wants her life back.”
Spears said she wants to have the conservatorship end for good, to have control of her finances, and to be able to control her own body, in terms of having a baby.
A judge denied removing Britney Spears' father as conservator of her estate, after she said she has been mistreated, forced to perform and blocked from removing her IUD.
Her father, who also controlled her personal affairs until 2019, says he is "greatly saddened" by her claims. pic.twitter.com/9KTYUtYFxv
— AJ+ (@ajplus) July 1, 2021
“To see a woman like Britney Spears have her most basic human rights permanently stripped away from her under the guise of ‘protection’ should be illegal,” Mace told The Guardian.
If it was already a law, the Free Act would have made it easier for Spears to oust her father from the conservatorship, which she has also said she wants to do on multiple occasions.
As of this writing, Spears’ new attorney, Matthew Rosengart, views removing Jamie Spears as the first priority in the case.
On Tuesday, he said he is working “aggressively and expeditiously” to remove Jamie as conservator, given that he doesn’t resign first.
“We will be moving promptly and aggressively for Jamie Spears’ removal” — Matthew Rosengart pic.twitter.com/y9bvlLv5JR
— Fan Account (@breatheonmiley) July 14, 2021
In an Instagram video celebrating Rosengart’s appointment, Spears posted a montage of her doing cartwheels and horseback riding, set to the song “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” by KT Tunstall.
Spears wrote in the caption how she was feeling grateful and blessed to have “real representation, and to have so much support” from her fans. She then used the hashtag #FreeBritney for the first time.
“Under the FREE Act, we would Free Britney along with the countless number of seniors and persons with disabilities being abused and exploited by the broken system, '' Crist said in a statement.