Sen. Bob Casey wants more federal oversight on conservatorships after Britney Spears’ case

Written by on July 7, 2021

Sen. Bob Casey wants more federal oversight on guardianships and conservatorships following the recent Britney Spears case 

By Tyler Pratt

July 7, 2021

FILE – Britney Spears arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” on July 22, 2019. When Spears speaks to a judge at her own request on Wednesday, June. 23, 2021, she’ll do it 13 years into a court-enforced conservatorship that has exercised vast control of her life and money by her father. Spears has said the conservatorship saved her from collapse and exploitation. But she has sought more control over how it operates, and says she wants her father out. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

One of Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senators is calling for more federal oversight into how guardianships and conservatorships are conducted. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) recently penned a letter to the departments of Justice and Health and Human Services asking them to share information on how they monitor and collect data on guardianships.

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According to the National Center for State Courts, there are 1.3 million adults under guardianship in the U.S. controlling roughly $50 billion in assets. But Casey says the picture is incomplete.

“The cases that don’t get a lot of attention are the cases in which someone might have a disability and might be unfairly subjected to the constraints of a guardianship,” Casey says. 

Casey, along with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) wrote that Britney Spears’s recent testimony about her 13-year conservatorship revealed disturbing details about how her father controls her life and finances. Casey calls it shocking. 

“That the reach of a particular state’s laws on either guardianship or conservatorship could have the kind of impact that it was having on her life. I think that to me, and a lot of other people, was offensive,” Casey says. 

Since each state has its own rules for handling conservatorships, the federal government may not have the authority to change much. But Casey says he hopes to better understand the concerns in guardianships, particularly for the elderly and disabled whose situations may not be as highly publicized. 

“Sometimes the best way to begin to solve a problem is to measure or to get a sense of the scope of the problem,” he says.  

Casey co-sponsored a bill in 2019 to foster more transparency around guardianships. And he says his policy work makes him a Free Britney supporter. 

Casey and Warren have asked HHS and the DOJ to supply the requested data by mid-July.

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