Britney Spears has recently shined a national spotlight on the problems of guardianship and conservatorship systems. To that end, CPR and Quality Trust collaborated to assemble a national coalition of disability justice advocates to highlight that Ms. Spears’ is not alone, and that the answer to this problem lies in continuing to advance and promote Supported Decision-Making. CPR also joined other civil and disability rights organizations on an amicus brief filed by the ACLU in Ms. Spears’ case. The brief supported her right to select her own attorney and urged the Court to ensure she has access to assistance and tools, including Supported Decision-Making, to make that choice.
Fueled by the publicity surrounding Ms. Spears’ case, the U.S. Senate Judiciary’s Subcommittee on the Constitution announced its intention to hold a hearing to look at due process problems associated with guardianship and to explore possible solutions. CPR, Quality Trust, the ACLU, and a number of other organizations and allies worked over a six-week period to influence the focus of the hearing and to ensure that there was ample testimony by people with disabilities and their families about the difference that Supported Decision-Making has made in the lives of people. The Subcommittee elected not to hold a virtual hearing and instead invited 6 individuals to testify live, including a person who had recently had his rights restored. The Subcommittee hearing also included a compilation of videotaped testimony from other people with disabilities who were impacted by guardianship or who used supported decision-making. Cory Carlotto, one of the participants in the first pilot operated by CPR and Nonotuck Resources, submitted written and video testimony. Cathy Costanzo submitted lengthy written testimony on behalf of CPR. Morgan Whitlatch, who has since become CPR’s new Director of Supported Decision-Making Initiatives, was one of the live witnesses at the hearing and submitted written testimony. CPR and its partners continue to implement a national strategy to highlight SDM as a meaningful alternative to guardianship.