A bipartisan pair of lawmakers introduced legislation on Tuesday that would make it easier for people
in conservatorships, such as singer Britney Spears
, to petition a judge
to replace their conservator, the person legally charged with making decisions for them.
The bill's official title is the Freedom and Right to Emancipate from Exploitation Act, but the bill's sponsors, Reps. Charlie Crist
(D-Fla.) and Nancy Mace
(R-S.C.), have dubbed it the "Free Britney" Act in response to the growing public outrage over the singer's situation.
Spears' conservatorship was described by the lawmakers as a "nightmare."
“If it can happen to her, it can happen to anyone,” said Mace on Tuesday.
If passed, the legislation would allow anyone under a conservatorship to request that their private conservator be replaced with a public conservator without having to prove any wrongdoing. It would also assign independent caseworkers to monitor conservatorships.
In a statement
, Crist summarized the bill, saying that it gives Americans an "escape hatch out of abusive guardianships."
He noted that “tragically, we don’t know how many people are being held captive against their will” under current systems, which vary by state; however, Mace’s office estimated the number of people in conservatorships of any kind to be around 1.3 million across the country.
Spears has been campaigning to have her father
, James “Jamie” Spears
, removed from the legal arrangement established in 2008 to control her estate and personal well-being following a series of public mental health
Last month, the singer told a California
judge that she had no idea she had the right to petition the court to end the arrangement completely, and that she wished to do so as soon as possible, claiming that it was interfering with her exercise
of many personal freedoms.
Her shocking remarks to Los Angeles Superior Court
Judge Brenda Penny
highlighted the potential for abuse
in conservatorships, which are intended for people who lack the mental or physical
capacity to care for themselves, typically the elderly or infirm. However, since her conservatorship was established, Spears has given hundreds of performances, earning millions of dollars to support herself.
Spears was granted permission last week to hire a new attorney of her choosing, the first time
she has had a say in her legal representation
in more than a decade. The new attorney, Mathew Rosengart, a former federal prosecutor, vowed Monday to “aggressively and expeditiously” end Spears’ father’s involvement with the conservatorship as a first step.