A Growing Chorus Calls for Congressional Hearings
Several organizations have joined Spectrum Institute’s call for congressional hearings into abusive conservatorship and guardianship systems. The request was sent on March 11, 2021, in a letter to Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-NJ), Chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
The idea for the request was stimulated by news stories that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a Republican member of the Judiciary Committee, had asked for such hearings in response to growing media attention to the abusive conservatorship in which entertainment icon Britney Spears has been entangled for more than 10 years. The letter from Gaetz to Nadler states: “The House Committee on the Judiciary is charged with safeguarding the rights afforded to Americans by the U.S. Constitution. These rights include having the free will to guide one’s own affairs and the legal autonomy over one’s own finances. When situations suggest the unjust deprivation of those rights by the government, we have an obligation to conduct oversight and explore potential remedies.”
The letter from Spectrum Institute emphasizes that Congress has authority to conduct hearings and to enact legislation protecting the federal rights afforded to all Americans under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution and by federal nondiscrimination statutes such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. The letter, written by Thomas F. Coleman, legal director of Spectrum Institute states: “Using its Section 5 powers, Congress has the authority to enforce the 14th Amendment which prohibits states from depriving individuals of liberty or property without due process of law. Unfortunately, such deprivations occur on a routine basis in conservatorship proceedings in California and guardianship proceedings elsewhere.” For a copy of the letter, click here.
Coleman offered to help the Judiciary Committee shape appropriate remedies once such hearings are held, stating: “Spectrum Institute can prepare detailed proposals for Congress, both through testimony and written reports, should the House Judiciary Committee decide to schedule hearings into abusive conservatorships that the ranking Republican member and others are requesting..” A copy of the letter is being sent by Spectrum Institute to all members of the House Judiciary Committee as well as all members of California’s congressional delegation.
Coincidentally and simultaneously with Spectrum Institute’s letter to Congressman Nadler, a British-produced podcast about the dysfunctional California conservatorship system was released. The reform activities of Coleman and Spectrum Institute were prominently featured in the podcast. To listen to the 54-minute masterpiece that explains the plight of Britney Spears as well as the violations of the rights of other unlucky individuals, click here. To read the written exchange of views of Coleman with podcaster Tom Pattinson, click here.