Conservatives have had plenty of differences with Sen. Mitch McConnell. But now that the Senate has confirmed Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, it's worth saying that McConnell deserves a lot of credit.

Sure, President Trump deserves credit, too, for following through on his promise to pick a qualified conservative justice from his list to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. But if it wasn't for McConnell, Trump wouldn't have had that opportunity in the first place.

It's now taken for granted that McConnell decided to block President Obama from replacing Scalia, but that was by no means a given. McConnell's decision to do so was not some sort of begrudging decision after weeks of battering by conservatives. On the day that Scalia was discovered dead, McConnell came right out of the gate to say, "The American people‎ should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President."

The idea of not confirming a Supreme Court nominee during an election year was, of course, an ad hoc creation. The bottom line was that Republicans had the power to prevent Obama's nominee from dramatically changing the ideological balance of the court, and McConnell was prepared to exercise that power.

Over the course of the year, and after President Obama nominated the respected Judge Merrick Garland, McConnell was pummeled by Democrats and the media, and polls showed that a majority of the public thought Garland deserved a hearing. Once Trump captured the GOP nomination, McConnell was under more pressure to relent, and as Hillary Clinton appeared likely to win, even some conservatives were starting to wonder if it would be better to confirm Garland than face a younger and more liberal Clinton nominee. But McConnell held the line on his "no hearings, no votes" policy.

Then, once Democrats mounted a filibuster against Gorsuch, McConnell decided to follow Harry Reid's lead and go nuclear. Again, this isn't something that should be taken for granted. Conservatives have often been frustrated by what they see as McConnell's obsession with Senate procedure and guarding Senate traditions, which they view as unilateral disarmament given the lengths Democrats are willing to go to in advancing the liberal agenda. But in this case, he was willing to do what it took to put a well-qualified consensus conservative nominee on the court.