Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is seeking a direct appeal to the state's high court, as he tries to withhold legislators' pay.
Quinn vetoed legislators' salaries because he says they don't deserve it until they've passed a pension overhaul.
But a lower court ruled that's unconstitutional.
In a brief that asks the Illinois Supreme Court to hear the case, the Quinn administration argues that it is too early for the judiciary to intervene with his veto because the General Assembly never took a vote attempting to override him.
A vote to restore their own salaries would be politically unpalatable for legislators many of whom are running for re-election themselves.
But legislative leaders who brought the lawsuit also say it's a matter of principle. They say the governor's veto usurps the division of powers. The state constitution also says a legislators' pay cannot be changed midterm.
Critics say Quinn is pursuing the court case as a campaign move. Many political leaders have called Quinn's tactic a distraction and a waste of taxpayer money.
Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky contributed to this report.