Is it time to #FreeBritney?


Graphic by Grace Dunlavy

Remember when you were a child and you had to ask your parents permission before going to your friend’s house or seeing a movie? What if you still had to do that as an adult? Britney Spears, the icon we all know who sang such hits as “Toxic,” “Oops!… I Did It Again” and “…Baby One More Time,” has been living under the restrictions of a conservatorship that requires her to get permission for such activities for over a decade, despite the fact that it no longer reflects her current lifestyle or her wishes. 


For those who aren’t privy to the Britney drama, when Spears underwent a public mental breakdown in 2008, the court appointed her father as her conservator. A conservator is someone who acts as the guardian of an adult when it has been proven they can not make their own decisions, typically because the adult in question is elderly or has a developmental disability. According to the California Courts website, a conservator arranges their conservatee’s meals, health care, clothing, personal care, financial assets and overall wellbeing. 


At the time when a conservator was appointed, that was the best decision for Spears and her $59 million net worth as she needed to focus on her mental health, not her assets, according to Entertainment Tonight. Spears’s father was appointed to the role of conservator; however, he stepped down last year due to health reasons. Jodi Montgomery has been her new conservator since May 2019, and Spears has expressed that she prefers Montgomery and “strongly opposes” her father reclaiming this role, according to the Los Angeles Times. She would also like to have the option of being fully independent of a conservator in the future. Almost 11 years have passed since she was originally appointed a conservator; it is time the courts reevaluate her case as her lifestyle has changed. 


Spears has worked extremely hard, despite being constrained by her conservatorship. This is unusual, to say the least, from someone who has been deemed incapable of operating independently. She released three albums, performed Vegas casino show “Piece of Me” over 250 times and started work on a new show “Britney: Domination,” was a judge on the X-Factor and launched an undergarment brand while performing all the tasks required of a person living in the public eye. However, since her father stepped down, Spears put a pause on her music career, which indicates that her plans and her father’s no longer align.


The American Civil Liberties Union addressed the #FreeBritney movement and offered a constructive solution that would give Spears more freedom. According to a Q&A on the ACLU website, “an alternative to conservatorship or guardianship where people with disabilities can choose trusted support people to help them direct their lives, without court intervention or loss of civil rights.” With this solution, Spears would no longer be legally restricted but would still have a powerful support network for when she is looking for aid.


From the family’s perspective, Spears’s brother spoke in an interview and opened up about how frustrating being in the conservatorship is for Spears. He noted how she has had people making decisions for her from a young age and the conservatorship doesn’t give her the freedom that a 37-year-old should have. Alternatively, Spears’s father claims she needs to remain in the conservatorship, though his motives are most likely financially based as he got around $128,000 every year for being her conservator, just a fraction of the $1.1 million she pays her advisors and attorneys every year.


The hearing to determine if Montgomery will remain her conservator was originally scheduled for May, but because of COVID-19 has been moved to Sept. 18, with the final decision to be made in October. Everyone should be readily behind Spears as she works with her doctors and support system to become more independent after she has given us so many fantastic bops. Spears should one day have the freedom to decide for herself how her time and money are spent. Hopefully in October, when any changes decided upon are put into place, we will be able to see a liberated and more stable Britney.