Critics are quite right to point out that much of the problem lies at lower levels in the public education system, where inequality in resources across U.S. schools and districts is an international scandal. However, because of America's historical–and contemporary–legacy of racial preferences on behalf of whites, real affirmative action remains an issue of justice and fairness, and public universities have an important role to play. In the wake of the court's decisions, it's still legal–if only just barely–to act on that moral impulse.
Philip N. Cohen is an assistant professor of sociology at UC Irvine. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.