ACORN and Project Vote filed suit against the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), challenging the restrictions on ACORN's right to register voters at MTA transportation centers, including subway and bus stops. The restrictions required any individual who wished to register voters or conduct free speech activities on MTA property - no matter how far from the entrance or turnstiles - to obtain a permit for each day and disclose the location of the activity. The permits would only last three days.
The permits were supposed to be issued immediately upon application. However, when ACORN tried to cooperate by seeking permits for individual employees, the MTA refused to issue them, stating that their attorney needed to review the applications.
Finally, when one ACORN employee obtained a permit for one site, he was harassed by MTA police officers while taking a bus home from that site. When ACORN reapplied for a permit for its employees, the MTA informed ACORN that ACORN employees would never receive a permit because of the actions of the employee who was harassed.
The Maryland ACLU and attorneys from Crowell & Moring LLP represented ACORN and Project Vote in a lawsuit challenging the permit requirement and procedure as violations of the organizations' First Amendment rights. As a result, the MTA agreed to repeal and replace its regulations pertaining to the exercise of First Amendment rights, including the requirement to obtain a permit and time, place, and manner restrictions.