What happened
A Los Angeles family-court judge decided not to restore Britney Spears’ right to visit her two sons—at least not until after a Feb. 19 hearing in her custody battle with her former husband and backup dancer Kevin Federline. Spears showed up for an afternoon session of the hearing on Monday, but left without entering the courthouse after she was mobbed by paparazzi. (New York Post, free registration)

What the commentators said
“Britney Spears may not be completely lacking in maternal instincts after all,” said Sarah Hall in E! Online. After her lawyer implored her to show up for the hearing, at least she got in the car and drove over, “ostensibly to fight for her kids.” She lost visitation rights after she refused to give Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 16 months, back and was briefly hospitalized after a three-hour showdown with police.

Britney delivered gossip addicts yet another “bizarre and chaotic” scene, said Ken Lee and Howard Breuer in People.com. With paparazzi surrounding her, she said, “I’m scared,” and jumped back into her car. Police even tried to “coax” her out, but she said no, and left.

The lawyers “strongly advised” Spears to at least show up, said the blog Hecklerspray, but they meant “actually going into the courtroom itself.” Taking off without going inside amounted to “rubberstamping the loss of her children.” But the real lesson here for “all you young mothers” is that, “if you want to see your kids, perhaps it's not the best idea to barricade yourself topless in a bathroom with them and swear a lot until you're eventually taken to the brain hospital on a stretcher.”