By Harriet McLeod
CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled Monday night that a move by Republican Governor Nikki Haley to force legislators back to work was an "unconstitutional violation of separation of powers."
The court voted three to two to stay the governor's executive order.
The legislature recessed its regular session last Thursday and had scheduled to return June 14 in order to finish work on the budget and other issues.
But Haley immediately ordered lawmakers to come back into session starting Tuesday without pay to complete work on her legislative agenda.
Calling the extra session "a waste of time and money," state Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell filed a lawsuit against the governor on Monday.
"She's just impatient and wants it now and thinks she's got the supreme power to order us to come back and do what she wants," McConnell, a Republican from Charleston, told Reuters.
"We have separate and co-equal branches of government. She is trying to reach over into the legislative branch."
Haley said last week that she wants lawmakers to restructure state government and finish work on their illegal immigration bill, among other things.
"If the energy invested in avoiding coming back to work would instead go into passing these important restructuring reforms, South Carolina would be far better served," Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said earlier on Monday.
(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Peter Bohan)