In May 2022, the Global Liberty Alliance Rule of Law and Legal Defense Fund (“the Global Liberty Alliance) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia on behalf of U.S. Air Force Captain Daniel Knick. Capt. Knick sought a religious exemption from the COVID-19 therapeutic mandate. Capt. Knick's request was denied despite several prior medical exemptions.
The Complaint alleges violations of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Retaliation, and Capt. Knick's right to equal protection of the law and due process as guaranteed under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The complaint is appended at the end of this post.
In an interview on KFOR in Oklahoma, Capt. Knick said that the “[o]dds are this is the end of the line for my career ... I put my faith and trust in God completely with everything to include my own children, my family, my health [and] my welfare." Read more here at the KFOR website.
Knick is an Air Force officer in a Tennant unit of Tinker Air Force Base. In the fall of 2021, Knick applied for a religious exemption concerning the COVID-19 vaccine. The exemption request was denied, and he appealed. After the second request was refused, Knick applied for voluntary separation. That, too, was rejected. The Complaint alleges that not only was Capt. Knick's exemption request rejected, but that it was not even properly reviewed by U.S. officials.
The Complaint also alleges that the Air Force took retaliatory measures against Capt. Knick. At the time of the retaliation, Air Force officials were aware of that least two federal district courts had issued preliminary injunctions enjoining the Air Force from taking any action against service members based on their refusal to take the COVID-19 therapeutic.
“The Department of Defense continues to deny religious exemptions unlawfully," said GLA President Jason Poblete. “Capt. Knick's case is another example of the federal government's overreach and reckless disregard for Captain Knick's well-being, and that of his family. It's unconscionable that someone who has picked a life of service to the country is treated this way. It is un-American,” added Poblete.