Virginia Sen. John W. Warner, whose judicial nominations have aroused controversy in his own state, yesterday recommended Herbert H. Bateman, an unsuccessful candidate for Virginia lieutenant governor, to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The Republican Warner submitted Bateman's name to the Justice Department in a letter cosigned by all nine Republican members of the Virginia House delegation.

The letter said Bateman "will pursue his responsibility as a judge to interpret, not make, the law in accordance with those basic principles by which the president is now leading our nation on its new course."

But one state Republican Party activist, who asked to remain anonymous, said yesterday that Bateman's candidacy was "a tremendously long shot.

"It's flattering as hell," the source said, adding that Warner's decision might be designed to increase Bateman's stature and visibility following his upset defeat by State Sen. Nathan H. Miller at a state GOP convention in early June for the party's nomination as lieutenant governor.

Warner is in Europe reviewing NATO forces and will not return home until next week.

Bateman, a lawyer and Republican state senator from Newport News, has no judicial experience. Yesterday's announcement by Warner's office noted that Warner and Bateman once served together as law clerks at the federal appeals court in the District of Columbia.

The 11-member court often is referred to as second only to the Supreme Court in influence by virtue of its location in the nation's capital. Its members do not have to be selected from the District, a point Warner noted in announcing the nomination.

The court's current vacancy was created when Chief Judge Carl McGowan, 70, announced last month that he was retiring to senior judge status. McGowan, an 18-year veteran of the appellate bench, has been considered a moderating influence among his colleagues in their differing philosophies.

Yesterday's announcement said Warner was joined in his recommendation of Bateman, a former Democrat, by Gov. John N. Dalton, Virginia Republican Party chairman Alfred Cramer and by John Alderson, Ronald Reagan's campaign coordinator in the state last year.

Warner drew considerable criticism from Virginia blacks and women in June when he announced a list of 13 white males as recommended candidates to fill three federal judgeships in the state. Warner has stoutly defended his choices