The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is publicly reaching out to Britney Spears, following a ruling this week by a Los Angeles judge to extend her conservatorship until Feb. 1, 2021.
“People with disabilities have a right to lead self-directed lives and retain their civil rights,” the nonprofit organization tweeted earlier in the week, on Aug. 19. “If Britney Spears wants to regain her civil liberties and get out of her conservatorship, we are here to help her.”
On the afternoon of Aug. 23, they shared an article published on aclu.org, titled “How Conservatorship Threatens Britney Spears’ Civil Rights.”
“Conservatorships can result in serious financial, physical, or emotional abuse,” the ACLU tweeted alongside the link.
Conservatorship “is the court weighing into the person’s life and saying you, as a person with a disability, are no longer able to make decisions about yourself and livelihood — such as where you live, and how you support and feed yourself — and we are putting someone else in charge of making those decisions. Because it’s such an extreme step to take, it’s really supposed to be a last resort,” Zoe Brennan-Krohn, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Disability Rights Project, explained in the article.
“We don’t know if Britney Spears identifies herself as a person with disabilities, or what, if any, diagnoses she has received,” Brennan-Krohn said. “But by virtue of being under a conservatorship, we know that the court has determined that she is disabled, and has stripped away her civil rights because of that disability. So it’s inherently a civil rights/civil liberties issue.”
The ACLU attorney continued, “What we don’t know is what the info the court had, what Britney has said about what she wants specifically, what other options have been tried, or what her lawyers have said. So while it’s possible that this is an example of a thoughtful conservatorship that was implemented as the last resort and is being reviewed carefully, thoroughly, and regularly, that is not the norm for conservatorships, and it appears inconsistent with what we see of Britney publicly.”
On Aug. 17, two days before this week’s hearing, Spears’ court-appointed lawyer, Samuel Ingham, filed a motion on the singer’s behalf declaring that she does not want her father to serve as her conservator. Ingham said Spears’ needs and wishes have changed since the conservatorship was placed over her in 2008.
“This issue is getting attention right now because of Britney Spears’ fame,” Brennan-Krohn said in the ACLU article. “But she is only one of untold thousands nationwide under or at risk of guardianship or conservatorship.”