Progressives' optimism for large reforms dwindles
Bipartisan senators to hold hearing on 'toxic conservatorships' amid Britney Spears controversy
Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Tuesday announced plans to hold a hearing next week on "toxic conservatorships" as the recent legal battle to end pop singer Britney Spears's controversial court-ordered agreement has fueled bipartisan calls for federal reforms.
Blumenthal, chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on The Constitution, tweeted that he and Cruz, the subcommittee's ranking member, would be hosting a hearing entitled, "Toxic Conservatorships: The Need for Reform," apparently referencing Spears's hit song "Toxic."
"Britney Spears is one of hundreds of thousands of Americans in conservatorships that too often restrict their basic human rights," Blumenthal wrote.
The announcement did not make mention of any specific individuals scheduled to testify at the hearing.
The Spears case has brought together lawmakers from both sides of the aisle as questions have been raised about whether conservatorships can cause undue harm for individuals who have their financial affairs or daily life placed under the control of a court-appointed guardian.
The 39-year-old singer spoke out against her conservatorship in bombshell testimony in a Los Angeles Superior Court hearing in June, during which she called the 13-year court agreement "abusive," adding that it had left her "traumatized" and in "shock."
In June, GOP Reps. Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Burgess Owens (Ohio), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) and Andy Biggs (Ariz.) sent a letter to Spears inviting her to testify before Congress.
Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Bob Casey (Pa.) also cited Spears's comments in court in a letter calling on Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland to provide more data on the U.S. conservatorship system.
Spears's father, Jamie Spears, had repeatedly resisted stepping down as her conservator, though he reversed course in August by filing to remove himself from the court agreement, noting that while he believed there were "no actual grounds for suspending or removing" him, he did not "believe that a public battle with his daughter over his continuing service as her conservator would be in her best interests."
Her father went further earlier this month by filing to end the conservatorship, writing in a petition that "recent events" have "called into question whether circumstances have changed to such an extent that grounds for establishment of a conservatorship may no longer exist."
Days after the petition, the pop singer, who had previously said she had been barred from getting married or having more kids under her conservatorship, announced news of her engagement to her longtime boyfriend.